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Kevin J. Kolosky
2-Jun-2015, 18:12
I have always liked looking a photographs of trees. Especially aspen and birch trees, but really all trees. Two of my favorite books are the Tree books by John Sexton and by Ansel Adams.

And there have been some really fine photographs of trees shown here on this forum.

I am just curious. What is your thought process when your photographing trees. Especially when you are photographing in black and white. What are you looking for to separate your photographs from just ordinary snapshots of trees. Do you only shoot at certain times of the day. Do you only shoot certain types of trees. do you process your negatives differently for trees.
Do you use filters when you are photographing trees.

In short, what do you think about and what do you do to transform what would be a snapshot into a beautiful photograph of trees.

Jim Noel
2-Jun-2015, 19:01
Each question you ask has a different answer each time I approach an image of a tree. SOmetimes I want them backlit, sometimes side, sometimes front.
Do I use filters? Sometimes, but nit always the same one. Do I process them differently? Sometimes.
In other words your questions are too general to be answered by me.

jp
2-Jun-2015, 19:15
LF is particularly good for trees for two reasons for me. 1. Thin depth of field makes it possible to establish distance relationships/designs in the layout of the photo that would not be possible with an iphone or normal DSLR setup. 2. Front rise makes it so trees can be kept vertical without falling back.

Establishing a layout with distance relationships:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/16758279762/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/7355626606/in/dateposted-public/

Verticals where front rise is good:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/17141114966/in/dateposted-public/

Form; Trees make good shapes just like a person posing can make or break a photo; I look out for that.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/16998418077/in/dateposted-public/

Standard compositional things like lines and tones:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/16571835988/in/dateposted-public/

I haven't figure out filters with trees yet. Mostly filters are used to make things stand out from the background on the basis of color. Most of the trees I shoot are the same color as their surroundings, so focus is better than filtration for that for me.

I don't try to photograph texture. It's a given. If it is supposed to be in the photo, make it be in the photo. I have a mood or feeling in the woods. The trees surround me and filter all light. I have to work with them if I am going to use light to put what I feel+see on film. If you're dealing with beams or spots of bright sunlight, B&W film or color negative film like portra can be a lot more able to capture the dynamic range than digital at the present time.

I appreciate what Sexton & Adams saw and photographed, but wait, there's more. I'm a fan of the intimate landscapes. Eliot Porter felt+saw like Thoreau and captured that on film for his east coast stuff. How a tree is lit you suggest might be times of the day; I think it's more about which side of the tree you are on, whether you want a bright tree, a dark tree, or a gradient on the tree.

Light Guru
2-Jun-2015, 19:18
In short, what do you think about and what do you do to transform what would be a snapshot into a beautiful photograph of trees.

Snapshots have little to no thought put into them. If you want something more then a snapshot put some effort and time into thinking about your image before you take it.

Kevin J. Kolosky
2-Jun-2015, 19:27
"Snapshots have little to no thought put into them. If you want something more then a snapshot put some effort and time into thinking about your image before you take it."

My question was not what I should do. I'm not photographing. I'm looking at great photographs and want to know what YOU thought and what effort YOU put into it to make those great photographs.

For example, Eric told me that he often photographs aspens very late in the afternoon. He says he opens the shutter and walks away to have a sandwich and a beer, and then comes back and closes his shutter. I think his photos of Aspens are absolutely fabulous.

Vaughn
2-Jun-2015, 19:57
I photograph the light reflecting off the trees...that is my main consideration. While there is light, there is a possibility of a photograph...though I like working under the redwoods from 10am to 4 pm -- depending on the time of year.

The backlighting of this tree is what attracted me. (8x10 carbon print)

Heroique
2-Jun-2015, 20:05
Nice back-lighting, Vaughn.

Before I commit to a shot, I like to walk all the way around the tree with a viewing card.

Not just to inspect all sides of the tree, but all the backgrounds, too.

A tree in diverse surroundings is full of surprises, especially when the light is changing or shadows moving.

Kevin J. Kolosky
2-Jun-2015, 20:05
Vaughn

Was that photograph made anywhere near the spot where Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the Redwood Forest as a National forest?

Vaughn
2-Jun-2015, 20:28
No, it is in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Bull Creek Flat), in southern Humboldt County. I do not photograph much in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, where Lady Bird Johnson dedicated the new Redwood National Park -- too many people usually (as in actually seeing someone else!), and I like areas nearer to creeks. I am working on a project along Redwood Creek (down slope from LBJ Grove) -- backpacking down to the creek then up it with the 4x5 and Tech Pan film (making carbon prints) -- an example:

Jim Fitzgerald
2-Jun-2015, 21:08
I love trees and have worked with Vaughn in the Redwoods several times and I am a dedicated carbon printer as well. For me it is the feeling. The way the light moves and makes the texture pop and the sure beauty of how some of these majestic trees survive. I can shoot between 10 and 4 as well but it is the light that attracts me. I've been working on a series of Black Oaks in Yosemite for years. Here are two different ones. Yes different pigments used to get the tones I feel. Fun thing about carbon.

koraks
3-Jun-2015, 01:08
I can't really comment, because I don't go beyond snapshots. I just walk around and take home what grabs me. What can I say?

Vaughn
3-Jun-2015, 08:13
I love trees and have worked with Vaughn in the Redwoods several times and I am a dedicated carbon printer as well...

Get busy developing those Alabama Hills rocks films! I have 11x14 film I exposed over a year ago still to develop! great oaks!

Lenny Eiger
3-Jun-2015, 08:50
In the same way that "no man is an island" neither are trees. Trees live in a world that is connected, just like us. They might lean to the left, maybe because there is a rock blocking the way to the water, or maybe its because there are prevailing winds. They are surround by their world, a particular kind of light, the other types of things that grow there, water, the animals that live there, etc. IMO, good photographs are borne of understanding.

If the understanding is something we all understand, then it becomes a "universal" understanding. If its subtle, and reveals itself by your photo, then the photo has a fair amount of effect, perhaps making us feel that we all know something together... as humans, about something.

The only way to accomplish this is to "see". I do my best when I get to some place to stick my hands in the dirt, get the drive in the car, my work life, etc., out of my system; and see nature, in nature's light. It's a type of hyper focusing. If you can get in tune with what's happening around you, listen closely, see more deeply, then the photographs will come.

I'd try looking at something else besides Adams and Sexton. IF you want contemporary, Paul Caponigro was very good at this. I also like the work of O'Sullivan, Weston and Frederick Evans. For design, I look to the photos of the PhotoSecession. Design is important in landscape, its not easy to separate out the exact concept you are attempting to talk about.

Hope this helps.

Lenny

Greg Miller
3-Jun-2015, 09:06
As a general rule, I photograph trees when the sun is low on the horizon (preferably filtered by clouds). The low angle of the sun works well on tree trunks so that one side of the trunks have light and the light gradually wraps around to a shaded side. This gives the viewers' brains visual clues to the dimensionality of the trees on the 2 dimensional print. Much like a portrait of a person.

sanking
3-Jun-2015, 10:59
"As a general rule, I photograph trees when the sun is low on the horizon (preferably filtered by clouds)."

I also like to photograph trees with the sun low on the horizon, or with the sun just below the horizon. Very soft light from mist, fog, or smog, also works well in many cases, especially when there is some back light.

The feature that attracts me most in determining if I want to photograph a certain tree is the elegance of the lines of the limbs, roots and trunk, or special quality of the leaves. If this works, I can usually find a way to make a nice photograhh of the subject.

In terms of study, some of my best pictures of trees have been "snaps" in that I saw immediately the potential of the photograph, and captured the image within a few minutes. Even so, many of my images, whether from digital capture of film scans, receive a fair amount of crafting in PS to enhance tonal relationships.

Sandy

Kirk Gittings
3-Jun-2015, 11:14
I'd try looking at something else besides Adams and Sexton. IF you want contemporary, Paul Caponigro was very good at this. I also like the work of O'Sullivan, Weston and Frederick Evans.

George Tice too. This image in the flesh is breathtaking.I'd try looking at something else besides Adams and Sexton. http://www.photographydealers.com/wp-content/uploads/Artists/george-tice/large/Tice-George-Oak-Tree-Holmdel.jpghttp://www.photographydealers.com/wp-content/uploads/Artists/george-tice/large/Tice-George-Oak-Tree-Holmdel.jpg

sanking
3-Jun-2015, 11:52
And some interesting work with trees by Beth Moon, a bit on the exotic and unusual side.

http://www.bethmoon.com

Sandy

Drew Wiley
3-Jun-2015, 11:59
Trees can become anything you wish. People like Stieglitz turned them into dark subconscious "equivalents", others turn them into anthropomorphisms, others into texture studies, some into graphics experiments with distribution of shapes and shadows. Me.. all the above plus a helluva lot more. Technique-wise, I love chasing the constantly shifting interplay of light and shadow, which can change every few seconds. .. Beating the wind. I lost to the wind last week. Pulled the 8x10 neg out of the wash water last nite and noticed that the wind had blown my lenshade in and cropped out a top corner. So thought to myself, I'll just crop that whole side, print the thing vertically instead of horizontally, and what the heck - the image actually looks better that way. With 8x10 you've got a lot of real estate to work with, esp if it's only enlarged to 16x20. Soft lighting brings different opportunities. There are no standard rules. Invent your own.

Kevin J. Kolosky
3-Jun-2015, 15:53
"I'd try looking at something else besides Adams and Sexton"

I do, and its right here on the pages of this forum! Its called "Post your trees" in the Image Sharing (LF) thread.

David_Senesac
3-Jun-2015, 16:00
With trees my task is not about technique but rather locating exceptional subjects and then capturing them in good light. Once located a specific woodly subject may be imaged using the similar photographic techniques as with other landscapes. With any tree given their variable graphic shapes, the finer task is to with patience, find a tripod position for a most aesthetic result.

Generally a common issue with most species is that they are not isolated subjects but exist within woods and forest in ways that limit what is possible. Photographing any sizable landscapes down under forest understories in sunny conditions is usually hopelessly contrasty unless one has diffuse cloud overcast light.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/images/print_06-HH-53.html

Even better in our dense forests are intimate subject trees in cloud or fog. Here I use one tree species, the giant coast redwood back lit as silhouetted background and bright fog to display the dainty rhododendron.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/14-G-14.jpg

At the other extreme, species like Sierra juniper, foxtail pine, or bristlecone pine living in isolation at timberlines, atop ridgelines, and on rocky outcrops, sunny conditions are not an issue but rather orientation of the sun. In these remote environments tis the better hunter rambling about that may find a prize.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/06-Y-12.jpg

For more intimate tree subjects one ought understand that wet wood often has more saturated color just like some wet rocks such that the best conditions are just after rains. Below for this manzanita subject I'd surveyed, drove back out one Sunday morning then hiked in rain suit a couple miles just as a rain front passed.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/10-A-2.jpg

Of course much more better suited for commentary in a coffee table "Tree Book". So again the issue is not so much about unusual technique but rather subject and light.

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Spring_2015/spring_2015-1.html

jcoldslabs
3-Jun-2015, 16:10
This is a great little book that offers a nice selection of tree photographs from the past 160 years. I flip through it regularly even though I'm not really a "tree" guy:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Tree-Photographs-Fran%C3%A7oise-Reynaud/dp/1606060325

Jonathan

Jim Fitzgerald
3-Jun-2015, 17:20
Get busy developing those Alabama Hills rocks films! I have 11x14 film I exposed over a year ago still to develop! great oaks!

Vaughn, I'm hoping this weekend. But 11 x 14 in the wind was a challenge. I hope something comes out. I do love the valley oaks. Glad you like them, thanks.

David Lobato
3-Jun-2015, 17:43
Trees are some of my favorite subjects. I spend time observing them and learning angles which show their character. At work I regularly see trees from the 2nd story, up close in a parking garage. Seeing how the leaves are presented to the sun is interesting, something we rarely see from the ground.

I also noticed Ansel liked a mid-height view of trees, and many of his compositions were from an elevated viewpoint looking at a tree, say from an opposite hillside. I have tried finding a higher view with good effect.

Large Format also captures textures and subtle tones that bring out the character in trees. Who can forget the detailed twisted agony of a bristlecone pine?

djdister
3-Jun-2015, 18:44
Sometimes direct sun is too harsh in rendering the character of a tree. Here is an example of late afternoon open shade on a tree with "character" -- there is still a directional quality to the light, but no harsh sun/shade line.

134850

5x7 FP4

Ron McElroy
3-Jun-2015, 19:32
And some interesting work with trees by Beth Moon, a bit on the exotic and unusual side.

http://www.bethmoon.com

Sandy

Thanks for posting this link Sandy.

Regular Rod
4-Jun-2015, 02:08
I have always liked looking a photographs of trees. Especially aspen and birch trees, but really all trees. Two of my favorite books are the Tree books by John Sexton and by Ansel Adams.

And there have been some really fine photographs of trees shown here on this forum.

I am just curious. What is your thought process when your photographing trees. Especially when you are photographing in black and white. What are you looking for to separate your photographs from just ordinary snapshots of trees. Do you only shoot at certain times of the day. Do you only shoot certain types of trees. do you process your negatives differently for trees.
Do you use filters when you are photographing trees.

In short, what do you think about and what do you do to transform what would be a snapshot into a beautiful photograph of trees.

If I can see the tree as a figure or better still a group of trees as figures and I believe I can render that in my photograph then no effort is spared to obtain the result. This applies whether using sheet or roll film cameras.

RR

Kevin J. Kolosky
4-Jun-2015, 10:52
http://home.vasina.net/?page_id=6193

Bruce Watson
5-Jun-2015, 07:10
I've been working on a series of Black Oaks in Yosemite for years. Here are two different ones.

I've photographed that tree! The first one. From the rock in the lower right in your picture. And I had different lighting of course. But it's the same tree, that knot hole is clearly recognizable. And it's been over a decade.

Small world.

Jim Fitzgerald
5-Jun-2015, 07:15
I've photographed that tree! The first one. From the rock in the lower right in your picture. And I had different lighting of course. But it's the same tree, that knot hole is clearly recognizable. And it's been over a decade.

Small world.

Bruce, I have been photographing that tree for over 9 years now. I finally got a 14 x 17 carbon print of the beautiful Oak. It is amazing how it seems to be growing right out of the granite.

Bill_1856
5-Jun-2015, 07:44
George once said that this one image supported hm and his family for 40 years.

Andrew O'Neill
5-Jun-2015, 12:40
I love leafless trees... or dead knarly trees but almost always posed with a building.
Carbon transfer print...

Heroique
5-Jun-2015, 14:07
I love leafless trees...

I like how the main branches are "looking" into the windows.

-----
If not for trees, I bet forum membership would only be 10% of what it is now.

Or maybe it would be the same, but we'd have lots more rocks.

And if no trees or rocks, lakes would rule here!

Deep thoughts. :cool:

tgtaylor
6-Jun-2015, 10:35
I like the Winter Oaks:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8899/18342667228_2c59536893_z.jpg

and Spring Oaks:

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8847/18342720948_ee08f03064_z.jpg

Thomas