There’s something freeing about getting lost in the woods. Certainly in this day and age it’s difficult to really get lost, because if you want you can just fetch your phone and narrow down your location within a few seconds. Even if it’s a just a fantasy of distance and unreality, it’s worth it to just take a starting point and keep walking, and let yourself embrace the unfamiliar terrain around you.
The hottest day of the year found me doing just that. I am no stranger to the local woods where I live in West Sussex, but this day I set myself a challenge to walk away from my house as far as I could before I got tired. I started at a local park, on a mapped walk in the woods, until five hours later I had absolutely no idea where I was but I had taken some of my best landscape photographs of all time.
I had to take frequent breaks to duck back into the woods for some shade, and my lack of foresight was exemplified by the single bottle of water in my rucksack. At the risk of sounding pretentious and romantic, the connection with nature and my body as I trekked along the landscape was worth the dehydration and heat of the day.
By far the best discovery I made though, was of a local dry pond. As I was approaching it from somewhere deep in the forest and not from the roads, I was unaware of the ‘private property’ sign across the pond and fought my way through bushes rather than more well worn paths. The photographs I took here are stunning, and well worth the risk of attacks from giant dragonflies hovering above the water surface inches from my toes.
My favourite part of these photos was that they were not limited to just a representation of nature, Some of the photographs have an element of the abstract about them, aided by the oil on the surface, refracting light and causing clouds of orange and red to billow on the lens of my camera.