Advent Season & A Forest Walk

Not sure if anyone outside of Germany knows that during the Advent season we like to decorate our homes with Advent wreaths. There’s the kind you decorate your front door with, or the kind with candles that you display on a table. Over the years I’ve had quite a few, one of them a handmade gift from a friend, but usually shop bought. This year, though, my gardening friend asked whether I’d like to come round to her place to make our own wreaths. Knowing she’s both a nature and a decorating-with-stuff-found-in-nature guru, I agreed immediately. The weather was beautiful last Sunday, 12°C and sunshine, so we took another forest walk first, this time in a different part of the Northern Black Forest, and even managed to pick up some last minute bits and pieces for our wreath decorations. Completely natural and free.

What we saw in the forest was so diverse – from the lushest greens to scenery that looked like out of a day-after-a-nuclear-war kind of movie. The greenest moss, interspersed with a couple of funny mushrooms, then completely dried out brown ferns, and dried and dead looking reed-like plants, even a fir tree whose needles were dry and browned from top to bottom. Dewdrops caught in a spiderweb. Holly, hardly visible, almost missed within the thicket. Looking at the pictures afterwards was also quite exciting, discovering things you didn’t notice out there, like those mushrooms growing out of the bottom of a tree stump.

We’ve been on forest walks a few times before, and we always come back with new learnings. On the first walk it was: bring a bag for stuff you collect. Later on it was: bring a larger bag! There’s so much stuff out there that’s great for home decoration, or if you want to make an Advent wreath. Also, bring hand pruners. The third thing I learned is: if you take your camera, do not ever forget to charge the battery or bring a spare… What we’ll definitely bring once we get snow is a thermos with mulled wine!

Regarding my camera, I’ve acquired a used Nikon D70 a few months ago and have been taking the thing everywhere I go to learn it. I am so far from knowing what I’m doing with this camera, still using only basic settings (although all manual, no automatic settings). And even though I’m using the light measuring thingy (as you can see I don’t even know the name for it), I still have no idea why some pictures are good and properly lighted and some aren’t. It doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue with food photography in more or less controlled light settings, but out there in nature I have no idea what I’m doing. But lazy person that I am, I don’t want to read up on it too much, or do a free online photography course. At the moment I’m just happy to play around and learn. From my mistakes.

I’ve also learned something about myself using this camera. Whereas before I wouldn’t particularly like walking through a muddy forest – or getting my shoes dirty in general – I now find myself venturing into the depths of a forest instead of sticking to the trodden path, I wouldn’t shy away from crawling around on the forest ground – always assuming I was dressed accordingly, of course – or even lying on the ground to take pictures. I haven’t done the latter yet but was tempted quite a few times. It’s quite interesting to see what I’ll be willing to do to get a picture.

I don’t photoshop my pictures either, just the autocorrect feature every picture viewing program has. Although I’ve recently had one of my food pics pimped by someone with professional photography skills, and even though I’m quite against pimping pictures – because that’s just not how things look in reality – at some point in the future I can see myself being tempted to try some soft pimping…

If you want to take a stroll through the Northern Black forest, click on any picture below, and it’ll start the WordPress Photo Carousel (great feature, by the way, if you haven’t seen or used it yet!). [Unfortunately, I just found out after creating this post that to avoid the normal sized post pics appearing in the gallery, you have to do some workaround which was a bit too much as it would have entailed re-doing all my work, so sorry about that…]