I shot this scene using a 10-stop neutral density filter, playing around with long exposures. This particular exposure created layers of transparency within the rolling waves, giving the movement a hazy quality. When I applied the preset it retained that effect, making it feel nice and spooky, like a ghostly fog rising off the dark waters.
I left the soft ray of sun shining through the trees in the edit because while its absence would create a creepier scene, it balances the composition and draws the eye back to the Blair Witch-y pile of branches in the foreground. And sometimes eerie can also be beautiful. While this is just a random pile of fallen branches, elsewhere around this clearing (near Whitby, Yorkshire) were very curious branch structures. Some were rack-like and obviously constructed by people, maybe scouts. But there was one huge twisted, sculptural piece that created an imposing arch in front of a line of trees and it seemed impossible that it could have be made by a person or even a group - far too large to raise and no human can twist branches onto each other, or nature - far too perfect in its structure to have occurred naturally. Ghosts then, obviously! Crafty ghosts. Or aliens. I knew I'd regret leaving without that shot but we had to move on.
Two girls walking against the wind on a concrete pier on a sunny day is cropped to change the proportions of the sky and stairs. The compression of the sky to a tight strip creates a force on the figures, as if to push them down to what appears to be their doom waiting at the bottom of the steps. This was a tough one for me to do considering the two figures are my daughter and her friend! I had to tell myself it was no longer them in the edited version. The preset I used made the tones and textures of the concrete, and therefore the tone of the photo, feel especially gross and foreboding. However, I do like the watercolour effect on the sky, even if it's dark and menacing.
This forest scene didn't need much editing to have an eerie effect. The original was made by panning up slowly during a prolonged exposure to create a slight motion blur where the trees were still recognisable but a transparency is created. These trees had evenly spaced, thin, bare but bristly branches protruding out of each side creating a chevron pattern, so what looks like a result of the panning is actually real. The sepia tone of the edit makes it feel more illustrative, as if from an old book of fairytales. I'm sure there's a candy house in there somewhere.
Leafy branches are reflected in a pooling of water in a creek. The slight motion blur of the original is created by the movement of the water, captured using a longer exposure. The high-contrast preset I used blew out the centre of the composition while darkening the surrounding areas, creating a hazydepth that makes you feel as if you could be sucked into some portal to another dimension. Remember the Bloody Mary story and all of its incarnations? Boy I hated that older kid who first told me about it, she knew she was scaring me. I really thought you could get sucked into your mirror by repeating a line, so I was afraid that I somehow might accidentally say it. I did not sleep that night!