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Thread: Snow Damage in the Forest

  1. #1
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Snow Damage in the Forest

    This, unashamedly, owes its existence to two influences.

    Whilst away over the last couple of days to do with work, I used my own time to again read through the latest issue of ‘Black & White Photography’ and further study Adams’ ‘Examples’ (I spent 1 hours on the train from Newcastle to Edinburgh studying ‘Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn’).

    The article in B & W Photography by Roderick Field got me thinking again about my own environment and surroundings. ‘Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn’ is just another of those Adams images that reveals more and more the more closely you study it. It is just awe inspiring in every aspect.

    I wrote earlier this week of how we care for dogs when their owners are on vacation. One of the places I always take the dogs for a walk is a forest close to home. It got ravaged by the snow we had this winter. Trees are down everywhere. When I was out with Ollie last weekend, I noted a few possibilities. Late this afternoon I went back. I hoped for and got a low sun – splashing light onto the trees.

    So, it's a bit of an experiment.


    Snow Damage in the Forest

    40D, 70-200 f4 L IS @ 116mm. ISO100. 2s@ f16. 5-stop (3+2) GND. Manual.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Merced River, Autum is certainly one of my all time favorites and I may have to buy it before too long. I think your capture is certainly in line with what Adam's was trying to portray, all the way down to the tonal quality, grain, and contrast structure. I do wonder if you framed the very front left corner a bit darker if it wouldn't help to draw the eye deeper into the forest - perhaps just nudge the eye a little to get it up and down the fallen tree-trunks.

    Great pick of location where the trunks work a front to back diagonal and the vertical trunks narrow the scope of vision. I especially like the way the eye gets to the very back left dark area, though is pulled instantly back to the front by the light back area and light left front.

    The little limbs which fold over from left to right in a countering diagonal, are just enough to create a see-sawing action. Lots of rhythm, the best use of color (tonal range) and a sincerity which goes beyond a simple shot in the woods makes this peice stand out way beyond others in its class. Saying this is nicely accomplished is much like saying a Rolls Royce is just a nice car, when we all know the Rolls epitomizes the finest in a motorcoach.

    I'd hang your next to Adam's and never allow a sideways distinction to be made.

  3. #3
    purplehaze's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Beautiful tone and texture, Donald. That is what strikes me first, but as Chris says, there are a lot of wonderful things happening on a compositional level as well. I'm sure I could study it for good long time and still be making new discoveries.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Have to agree with Chris and Janis, very well done Donald. The tones here are perfect.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    This is a really fantastic image donald. Shots like this are very hard to pull off, and you've done a great job. My only nit is the little bit of brush at the bottom. (perhaps just toned down to blen in )

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Thank you for your encouraging comments.

    Just to pick a couple of the points made above, which hopefully might be helpful to others as well.

    Chris - Your point about the front left corner being a bit darker to draw the eye into the forest. I think you are right. I have just started using vignette's since I got Silver Efex Pro - always stayed away from them before. And what I'm find is that I'm being very cautious and conservative in their use. At one stage in the processing I actually had a much stronger vignette on this, doing exactly what you suggest ... and I liked it. But then I took fright and backed off, thinking that it looked too strong and that others might also see it that way. I wasn't bold enough.

    Steve - blending in those few branches at the bottom. Again, I agree. When I looked at the location last weekend and again when I arrived for this shot, this is not the picture that I first 'saw'. What I 'saw' was a 4 x 5 portrait ratio that included the sunlit grass and branches at the side of the forestry track that are just below the bottom of the frame. Those few light branches are what were sticking up from the side of the track. I was also thinking, originally, that my standpoint would be on that grass verge.

    However, when I looked more closely I realised that I wanted to use the 70-200 at as long a length as I could get it, to add in some compression of depth. So, fortunately, there was a high bank on the other side of the forestry track. So I scrambled up that.

    So, I am looking over the top of the forestry track and that grass verge that I had originally intended to stand on. And to get the height I needed to get 'over the top' of the grass verge, I have the centre column of my X55PROB tripod fully extended and I'm using Liveview on my 40D to frame it all up.

    There was as slight breeze, the centre column was fully extended, the camera and 70-200 were the vertical position so off-centre (I don't have a lens collar) - I felt I was going to struggle to get the 2 or 3 second exposure I needed. And to add to that I was standing on spongy, mossy ground. So, If I moved you could see the vibration on the Liveview screen. So, it's all pretty unstable. It was all a case of waiting for the breeze to die down, hold my breath and press the cable release (oh, should have said, I also has it on the 2-sec delay).

    So, there - my story of this image.
    Last edited by Donald; 8th April 2011 at 08:48 AM.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Bravo!

    May I ask how/why the GND was applied? I'm not accustomed to their use outside of the usual flat horizon sunset shots. Here you have many different luminosities spread throughout the image so I'm having trouble visualizing where & how the GND helped. For example, the two vertical trunks on the right seem to be in shade and are getting darker as they rise, whereas the leafless vertical trunk on the left seems to be in sun and is getting brighter near the top. Intriguing!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by bfkimball View Post
    May I ask how/why the GND was applied?
    Brian

    You are right in what you say and I had to accept that I was going to get rising darkness on some of the fore and mid-ground trees. But I knew I had to tackle the very, very bright sunlight on the hillside in the background. There was no way the camera was going to handle the dynamic range without some assistance. In fact, just out of shot at the top is the sky, which was even brighter and the bit that did creep into the top of the uncropped frame was completely blown.

    I can't remember what the exposure would have been for that hillside, but it was something like 1/125@f16; i.e. a 8-stop difference. That's why I loaded up 5 stops of GND. I could have gone to 6, as I have a 1-stop GND as well, but I wanted to keep that hillside bright to contribute to the sense of the journey back through the image. Also, 6-stops would have had an even greater impact on the trunks and branches in the fore and mid-ground.

    ps - Brian. Please also remember that the sunlight was playing a major part in what appeared in shade and what was bright. It was streaming through the trees that are on the left out of shot. So, it's not just the GNDs that are causing the 'unevenness' of light'. And that was very deliberate on my part. I wanted that dappled sunlight bouncing off bits of trees, etc.

    The sun was, of course, on the move. 30 minutes earlier, that first major diagonal trunk had no direct light on it and looked very flat and that bright, dead trunk on the left, was only lit to about half way-down. So it was a case of just hanging around, constantly looking at what the light was doing on different parts of the scene.

    I was there for about 45 minutes and made 14 frames, all as the light changed. This was my pick.
    Last edited by Donald; 8th April 2011 at 10:08 AM.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    I like this very much - Donald. The combination of light tree/dark tree throughout the scene is spot on.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Thanks for the explanation Donald. It's good to know that GNDs can be successfully used in complex scenes like this. I'm probably more likely to get one now.

    Again, great image.

  11. #11
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    I've done a version with all those small, brightly lit twigs in the foreground taken out. It's up on my own website here.

  12. #12

    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Beautiful, Donald! It's fun to read all of the technical but, in the end, it has that sense of mood and place. I love it on your website, too. Beautiful!

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    That made a fantastic difference Donald, nice work.

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    I agree....it's just that little teeny nudge the eye asked for. Good edit.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Thank you guys. I am now pretty pleased with this. I feel I've certainly achieved the object of the exercise.

    Snow Damage in the Forest

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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Wow! great capture! The edits you made on the second print do make it look much better.

  17. #17

    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Donald

    In so many ways this should not work at all. However, you have managed not only make it work well but hold the viewer as well. It is interesting that you should mention Adams and the Merced. We stayed on the Merced a few years ago and spend a couple of weeks exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. The thing that struck me most about the landscape was that it is highly complex. Light, rock formation, trees and water all mixed together to make some Narnian wonderland. Now that is all well and good for talking lions and irritating middle english kids but a nightmare for photographers. For that reason it is probably one of the most badly photographed places in the world. What Adams did was to compositionally isolate his scene so that complex components in the views become one homogenised vision. This is what you have done with the photograph above. In a previous post you said that you did not feel that you were a photographer who pushed boundaries - you played it safe - I can assure you that the image above is far from playing it safe. To make something like this work requires skill.

    If you ever do get chance I suggest you visit the Merced and Yosemite. I have a feeling that you would be able to photograph that unique place and actually come back with something that is special. Yosemite is a cliche and is all to often photographed as a cliche. I have a feeling that you may just break that trend.

    I have Moon and Half Dome and Oaktree, Snowstorm hanging in my living room. They were produced from the original negative and printed onto gelatin silver fibre paper by Alan Ross. They cost me $175 each for 10X8 matted but unframed prints at the Ansel Adams Gallery. I thought they were incredibly cheap when you consider what some mediocre portrait galleries charge for prints in the UK.

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    PopsPhotos's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Donald,

    Color me green.

    Pops

  19. #19
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Snow Damage in the Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    Color me green.
    Thank you Pops. You honour me with your comment.

    Steve - as for shooting on the Merced. I think I'd be too much in awe ... but the opportunity would be a lifetime experience. Maybe one day.

    Mike/Chris - Thanks for your comment re the second version. Yes, I am now very pleased with it.

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