Neil Burnell, a Devon-based photographer, has been capturing the mossy labyrinth of twisted roots and branches of the Wistman’s Woods for many years. The recent Mystical series captures the otherworldly essence of the Wistman’s – an isolated oak woodland in Dartmoor, Devon, England. What Burnell captures now is the remnant of a once overflowing forest from around 7000 BC.
In his attempt to capture the mysticism of the forest in a cinematic style, Neil Burnell has created a series that truly takes us to a different world. A world where the trees warn of impending danger. The fog all around seems to cover some hidden secrets, and no one should dare to penetrate too deep. Burnell’s efforts have garnered attention and appreciation from across the globe.
The image above, “Wise”, recently won the “World Landscape Photographer” award. Over 1,000 people entered the 2020 World Landscape Photographer competition with 4,838 images. The winner was announced as the one taken by Neil Burnell.
The winning images were “chosen based on evoking emotion, composition and having something really special.”
“I’ve been shooting Wistmans now for four years and have had the composition of this shot in mind for a little while. The shot required extremely thick fog to give the center trees a touch of separation in what is a very condensed and complex area of the woodland. After several unsuccessful shots of this scene, I finally got lucky with a full day of fog in January this year, I have to say this is probably my favorite image I’ve taken from this wonderful woodland.”
Covering the woods was not just an artistic pursuit. Burnell grew up near the woods and has seen the effects of climate change take its toll on the ancient trees. He hopes to spread awareness about the Wistman’s and other such woodland areas all around. They have survived for thousands of years. Just a few years of human interruption should not be the cause of their demise.
All images: Neil Burnell