Westonbirt Arboreum, Gloucestershire, England by Sarah Howard

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Picture Story

I took this image on a visit to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire one winter. Westonbirt is most famous for its stunning display of autumn colours however I was photographing images here throughout the seasons as part of a project hence my visit on this particularly cold February morning. On my arrival I found it was shrouded in fog and decidedly gloomy. Feeling somewhat uninspired I went in search of a scene that caught my eye to capture.

Finding a composition was initially quite challenging due to the busy, somewhat cluttered nature of the arboretum but ironically this rather lovely tree was not far from the parking area. Despite visiting many times before, it was not one I had ever paid much attention to before. It always amazes me how mist and frost or snow can transform a scene from something ordinary that you might pass by at any other time, without a second glance, to something quite beautiful. There the tree stood surrounded by mist which very nicely concealed the distracting background behind it, thereby allowing it to take centre stage. It was the beautiful shape of this particular tree that caught my eye, the frost clinging to its branches and to the grasses beneath its canopy.

Having set up my tripod I tried various compositions; portrait and landscape, positioning the tree in the centre of the frame, and off centre, until found one I was happy with. My focal length was 24mm. I had no need for filters, but needed to overexpose just slightly to prevent the image looking too grey. The image worked better than I had hoped it would, decidedly moody and atmospheric. Nothing fancy, it was simply a portrait of a tree frozen in time.

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