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Thread: Giving Back to Nature

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Giving Back to Nature

    Any time I start feeling a bit cocky and need a good solid dose of humility, I try to take a picture of trees in the woodlands. For me, that is the hardest kind of an image to do well. The subject is usually ill defined and very contrasty. The background is usually very busy and contrasty as well. It is almost impossible to get a good separation of subject and background as both have the same basic dull colour tones.

    So today, in need of a humbling experience, I'm at it again.

    I was interested in how a fallen tree continues to provide nourishment to the forest floor and helps to spawn new growth. In this example, I liked the way that I could get the entire tree in the scene and didn't notice until later that I had cut off the very top of the tree stump in the distance. In addition, it gave me an opportunity to practice getting a large Depth of Field in the image as the closest part of the tree was only 2 feet in front of the lens.

    As usual, I'm not happy with the results and am looking for suggestions on how to improve the image.

    Background: For starters, this is a focus stacking composite made from 21 images to get the DoF. I then masked out the fallen tree and tried a number of combinations of brightness and contrast to try to separate the fallen tree from the rest of the background. Lastly, I decreased the color tone in the background and increased it in the fallen tree to try to make the tree stand out enough to see the detail.

    I couldn't find a combination that really looked great so for now, all I have been able to produce is an 'also ran' image. Any ideas on other things I could try??

    Giving Back to Nature

  2. #2

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    Re: Giving Back to Nature

    For me, Frank, you have simply tried too hard and ended up with a background which is distracting. I would try a crop to remove the background and concentrate on the log.

    Maybe a 5 x 4 ratio crop.

  3. #3
    dje's Avatar
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    Dave Ellis

    Re: Giving Back to Nature

    Hi Frank

    To me the image looks a bit "washed out". I tried adjusting the Levels in PS, shifting the mid-tone slider to 0.5 (a fairly drastic adjustment). The focus stacking seems to have worked well.

    Dave

    Giving Back to Nature

  4. #4
    Tringa's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Back to Nature

    I sympathise with your predicament Frank. I find woods and forests the most difficult of outdoor situations to photograph for all the reasons you have noted.

    However, I agree with Geoff, I'd concentrate on the log - the fungi on it are great or the log and the plants immediately to the side and use a wide enough aperture to lose the background detail. Alternatively perhaps a macro type shot of the fungi and the end of the log.

    Dave

  5. #5
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Back to Nature

    I appreciate the comments, Geoff, Dave and Dave. I deliberately desaturated the background to try to make the dead tree easier to see but it didn't work very well. Lightening the tree and darkening the background was equally ineffectual. If I leave both alone, it is very difficult to pick out the tree.

    The 'log' is actually part of the tree but as it was in shadow, it had a significantly different look to it.

    This is what it looked like after the Focus Stacking but before trying to make the tree stand out from the background.

    Giving Back to Nature

    I'm not sure I would wish woodlands images on anybody! <sigh>

  6. #6

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    Re: Giving Back to Nature

    Yes, Frank, most of my woodland scenes end up in the Trash Department; although the scene looked perfect as I took the shot.

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