Forest walk family photo shoot with Gemma Wilks

Woman holding hands with little girl and boy, walking through sunlit woodland in autumn

A couple of weeks ago, Gemma Wilks invited me to photograph her family on a Sunday morning walk. They live on the edge of the New Forest and this time of year is perfect for colourful shots in the woods.

Setting out from their village, we crunched over decade’s worth of dead leaves and beech mast.

Woman holding hands with little boy and girl, walking through sunlit New Forest

Their first stop was to look at some toadstools growing on a dead tree trunk.

Mother, daughter and son looking at toadstools on a tree trunk in the New Forest

It was also the occasion for hide-and-seek. I just love this expression from Gemma’s daughter!

Mother, son and excited daughter peering around a tree in the New Forest

She and her brother also loved my reflector:

Little blonde girl and her brother playing with a photograhic reflector in the New Forest

Little blonde girl in a pink coat looking up and smiling in the New Forest

A brief group shot on a log didn’t quite work in terms of getting the youngsters’ attention, but it was a nice moment nonetheless.

Woman with little boy and girl sitting on a log in the New Forest

Then it was on a rope swing, which both children enjoyed.

Young boy with glasses on rope swing with his mother

Young blonde girl in a pink coat on a rope swing in the New Forest being pushed by her mother

Their dog was clearly enjoying his run through the Forest, too!

Black and white dog wearing a red collar running through autumn leaves

The turning point in our walk was a road that Gemma suggested as a good backdrop. Here, the children are running towards me, clearly enjoying every moment.

Little boy and girl running through the New Forest on an autumn morning

A lull in traffic enabled us to get the shots Gemma envisaged:

Mother with her son, daughter and dog, smiling in a road in the New Forest

Then we turned back across the Forest to the road back to their village:

Mother with her son, daughter and dog, posing in a road in the New Forest

I got lucky as Gemma’s daughter skipped along…

Young girl with long blonde hair in pink coat skipping along a New Forest road

The children were keen to be photographed on the green. I was happy to oblige.

Young boy with glasses and young girl with blonde hair and pink coat running across a village green. Their mother is smiling in the background

It was a great morning out; I was pleased to spend time with Gemma and her children, not forgetting the dog.

If you’d like me to get some great shots of your family, please get in touch.

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Sunset in the New Forest

Today was the last day in October and it was warm enough to have lunch out in the garden. Afterwards my wife and I drove down through the New Forest to Exbury. We hoped to reach a fort on the mouth of the Beaulieu River but it turned out to be on private land and we had to turn back. We did, however, get a couple of cute shots of ponies enjoying the afternoon sunshine:

Ponies by the Solent
Ponies by the Solent

On the way back, we stopped at Hatchet Pond, where I captured a beautiful sunset:

Sunset over Hatchet Pond
Sunset over Hatchet Pond

As it turned out, I wasn’t alone!

Fellow photographers at Hatchet Pond
Fellow photographers at Hatchet Pond

A final image for Hallowe’en:

Hallowe'en falls
Hallowe’en falls

5 tips for photographing Autumn landscapes

Perhaps more than any other, Autumn is a season for visual metaphor in landscape photography. The sight of leaves turning colour and falling evokes advancing age, maturity, wisdom and looking back wistfully on years gone by and, in particular, the happier times among them.

Tip 1: Make shades of copper and gold the dominant colours in your composition, as in this view of livestock grazing in a field on the Mottisfont Estate in Hampshire, owned by the National Trust:

Trees and cloud in late afternoon sunshine
Autumn in Hampshire

Tip 2: To amplify the nostalgic metaphor, introduce water: the river of life. This is a view of the stream that runs through the estate:

A river flowing beneath trees in Autumn
Remembering times past

Tip 3: For additional interest, add another focal point, such as a lone figure or, as here, water rushing over a weir:


This is the start of a culvert that ensures the estate stream does not flood the grounds of the main house; it provided the ideal opportunity for a long-exposure shot. It could be said to represent the turbulence of life-changing events, although that it probably taking symbolism too far!

Tip 4: In taking all of these long-exposure photos in fading, late afternoon sunlight, a tripod is essential to avoid camera shake and permit the use of ISO1OO to minimise noise.

Tip 5: Key to bathing the landscape in a golden autumnal glow is shadow detail and rich saturation. Whilst you can use neutral density filters and gels to achieve these effects in-camera, it is often easier to do so via post-processing in Lightroom or Photohsop.

Each of the photos above trended Popular on shortly after upload.