Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunset copse

click photo to enlarge
Driving through the upper Ribble Valley in North Yorkshire one evening, just as the sun was going down, I came upon this copse on top of a low, rounded hill. The symmetrical silhouette of the trees against the sky and the sun-tinged clouds caused me to stop and take my photograph. This area of Yorkshire is underlaid by limestone, and the area in question has drumlins, so I'm guessing from the outlines and the aforementioned facts that these are beech trees on one of these low hills that were formed during the last glaciation. The regular, parallel undulations emphasised by the low sun suggest that the land was once cultivated by medieval ridge and furrow methods.

Beech is planted in the Pennines as shelter belts for farms and fields, and always seems to do best on limestone. Sometimes, as here, groups are planted as landmark clumps, helping people to orientate themselves, adding beauty to the landscape, and providing a regular supply of firewood from the overcrowded branches that the wind brings down. Looking at this copse one can almost imagine the trees have made a pact with each other. "Let's all grow big branches on the outside", they might have said, "but smaller ones inside. And you lot in the middle don't bother with too many side branches, just grow up taller than the rest of us." Of course the overcrowding of trunks, and the availability of light are responsible for the shape of each tree and for the overall symmetry of the group. However, its nice to think that these stately trees are co-operating on their hill-top site to extend the life of each other, and in so doing prolonging the pleasure that they provide for passing motorists with cameras!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 104mm (208mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On