Mist and Sky
The fascinating pattern of bare branches are often best appreciated against the soft backgrounds of overcast and mist of approaching winter. They can also contrast nicely with the brilliant colors of an early winter sunset or silhouetted against the sky along a high ridge line.
Looking Through the Veil
After the leaves have fallen away, new perspectives are revealed. We are able to see further into the forest where ranks of trees can form interesting patterns or the course of streams can be better appreciated. Unsuspected distant vistas may also appear, although always with a screen of branches. I have often struggled to find angles that would eliminate or reduce the obstructions, but more recently, I have come to appreciate how a veil of branches can add pattern and mystery to a scene. An intricate and chaotic curtain of branches in front of more regular shaped subjects, such as churches, houses or barns
Black and White
Of course, branches are a perfect subject for black and white photography, where contrast and pattern are most important. For black and white conversion, I look for images in which a strong pattern is the driving element. It is amazing how the removal of the distraction of color can totally shift the emphasis of an image. Experimentation is easy In Photoshop. Simply add a B&W adjustment layer and switch back and forth between color and B&W.
If it Doesn't Move, Decorate It
It is that time of year when our branches become the scaffold for elaborate Christmas light displays. I won't dwell on this here, since I am scheduled to do an article on Christmas light photography for the New England Photography Guild later this month. Stay tuned.
The great thing about photography in New England is that, no matter how crummy the weather or uninspiring the season, there are always interesting subjects to shoot. The trick is to shift focus to what is available and try "branching" out to new perspectives. Once again, sorry.