Daily Photo – Trees and Fog

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Another view from my dad’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2 to 1/125, 4 shots
  • Aperture:  f/16
  • ISO:   200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • Like many of the other shots I took on the same day, the dynamic range was far in excess of the camera’s capability.  That called for HDR processing, but I wanted to keep it as subtle as possible.  I wasn’t interested in the semi-surreal glow you see in most HDR shots;  I just wanted to bring out the various levels of fog that had settled in between the receding ridgelines.
  • I like the black and white version (below), but the color one not only had good tonal separation between the foreground clump of trees and the background, it also had good color separation (the foreground is more green, the background more blue).
  • There’s enough information in the original set of images to do more with the clouds, but I wasn’t willing to spend the time mucking with it.  The focus of the shot isn’t the sky, it’s the trees.  Large foreboding clouds would have been a distraction.  If anything, I’ve considered overexposing the clouds even more, to give the appearance of endless ridgelines fading into white fog.  I may revisit that at some point.

Black and white version:

Original – sample 1:

Original – sample 2:

February 20 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Old Growth Redwoods

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

This clump of old growth redwoods is one of the surviving groves of a massive fire over 100 years ago.  They’re part of California’s oldest state park, Big Basin, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/60 (on tripod)
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • This is a fairly common composition for tall trees, particularly redwoods.  It’s nevertheless a challenge to shoot on sunny days when the combination of bright sunlight and deep forest shade will clip both ends of the histogram.  In this instance, I opted to lose some of the highlight detail in order to preserve information in the bark and leaves.  For much the same reason, I didn’t feel comfortable going above ISO 400 or any smaller than f/5.6.  Sure, I was on a tripod, but there was just enough breeze to be a problem.
  • Are redwoods this green?  Not really.  Or rather, they’re a deeper shade of green.  However, with the sun poking through the leaves from above, I wanted a more airy, light feel to the image (as opposed to the dark forest it really is).  It also contrasted better with the brown and black tree bark.

Original:

February 02 2009 | Photography | No Comments »