The forest can be magical in the spring. It’s not only the emerging new life (contrasting with a touch of transience from an occasional dead tree), but also the vibrant colors and, especially, the sunlight that does not yet have the scorching power of the upcoming summer. If you take notice, the sun piercing through the canopy and hitting the forest floor may offer these gorgeous chiaroscuro scenes: Highlighted tableaus of ferns, trees, and flowers, surrounded by deep shadows.
Some highlights of spring: Foxgloves, ferns, and a dead tree. All shot with the Fuji X100F.
It goes without saying that exposure for the highlights is essential when shooting this type of scenery. Spot metering will get you in the right direction, but some additional negative exposure compensation is probably required to save the details in the highlights. I hardly ever use spot metering because, honestly, I often forget to turn it off again. My camera is always set to “multi” metering (in aperture priority mode) while my thumb is ready to hit the exposure compensation dial. Talking about exposure compensation: The three photos above were shot at -1.7, -0.7, and -2.0 EV. I did not apply enough compensation to the middle shot, which turned out somewhat overexposed (repairing this in post worked well with the RAW file, however). A polarizing filter would have helped to reduce the strong reflections from the foliage and deepen the colors, but I never use one on my X100F.
Apart from the well exposed highlights, I love the deep shadows that result from their relative underexposure. It brings drama to the scene and the transitions from light to dark look great this way, especially after applying a bit of fade to both the shadow and highlight end of the tone curve. I like this type of toning because it is reminiscent of the chiaroscuro applied by the old masters, who valued shadows just as much as highlights.
I’m glad to have had my share of gentle spring light. Getting ready now for the harsh light of summer.
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