Copse – a small group of trees. 

Coppice – an area of woodland in which the trees or shrubs are periodically cut back to ground level to stimulate growth and provide firewood or timber.

But what is the woodland management that is known as coppicing? This form of woodland management is as old as man, dating back thousands of years. When a tree is cut down to the stump, it sprouts a multitude of stems that are smaller, faster growing and easier to utilise. 

Near to where I grew up is such a coppice. Felland Copse in Reigate is a coppice which has an abundance of bluebells in the Spring. Now that I have returned from my winter in Tignes and the French Alps, I am eager to explore closer to home for a while. I haven’t set foot in Felland Copse since I was maybe 12 or 13, so I needed to put some time into location scouting. 

The following photo essay is the result of my location scout at Felland Copse. The photographs on show here are nothing special but I wanted to give an insight into how I scout a location and how I think I can get some interesting compositions in more favourable conditions. 

Felland Copse, Surrey: The light illuminates the bluebells in the background, while the foreground remains a beautiful rich blue. Photograph details: 1/8 sec, F9.0, ISO100, 150m, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.

Felland Copse, Surrey:

Felland Copse, Surrey: A copse by its very nature is messy. While there is obviously work to cut back the copse periodically to stimulate growth, it is not a manicured woodland area. The only way I can describe this scene is ‘busy’. Photograph details: 0.3 sec, F11.0, ISO100, 39mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.

Felland Copse, Surrey:

Felland Copse, Surrey: One aspect of woodland photography I do particularly like is the opportunity to photograph trees that have fallen. When a tree falls, it is easy to think that the tree is now dead, but even a fallen tree is a living tree in some respects. It is providing life for others in the woods. Photograph details: 1/20 sec, F4.9, ISO100, 29mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.

Felland Copse, Surrey:

Felland Copse, Surrey: So while I struggled with the light in this series of photographs, my trips to Felland Copse were not a complete waste. Photograph details: 1/10 sec, F8.0, ISO100, 49mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.

Felland Copse, Surrey:

Felland Copse, Surrey: Scouting a location is a hugely vital part of landscape photography, whether that is in person or online. Photograph details: 1/80 sec, F5.5, ISO100, 58mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.

What is location scouting?

Location scouting in landscape photography is a hugely important part of the game. It is the process of visiting (online and in person) an area with a view to exploring and planning your future compositions. 

Location Scouting Tools

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a photographer’s best friend. It allows us to get eyes on location view of a landscape, without actually visiting. You can see things like the elevation and terrain. Much like Google Earth but where the Photographer’s Ephemeris is different is that it allows photographers to see where, when and how the sun will appear on the day of your potential trip. It will also give you the exact angle the sun will be at, at the time you input. There is an app which is quite expensive but I use the free desktop application.

Google Maps Treks

My friends, Jeff Bartlett and Brendan van Son, got me onto Google Trekking Maps, think google street view but in the wilderness. So instead of a car with a camera mounted to it, there is a hiker with a huge 360-degree camera mounted to his back. Hardcore hikers indeed. What is great about this resource is it allows you to visualise your location before you actually put eyes on it. And by visualise, I mean not in the way you would do by searching for great photography in Fernie and you see a finished processed photograph. But visualise your location from the viewpoint of someone hiking the trail, really getting a feel for the lay of the land. A good example of using the Google Trekking Maps application can be seen here, Fairy Creek Falls in Fernie.  If you want to blaze a new trail for google you can apply here.

Where to find Felland Copse?

I’m stoked to announce the launch of my new photography shop, you can read all about it here. If you would like to keep up-to-date with my travels and photography, please sign up for my newsletter and like Nomads on the Road on facebook.

Visit the Nomads on the Road photoshop

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