Monday, June 10, 2019


Well, it's not really trees I want to talk about this month, but what trees can give us-- shapes,
lines, shadows, and even mood. The subjects, trees in this case, are secondary to what I want to create.

I don't photograph trees per se. Trees, in and of themselves, don't give me anything really
interesting. However, when I photograph them when light is the focus or at different times of  the day or year, or from different perspectives other than eye level, then the magic begins. Sometimes it's what I do with my camera or lenses that creates the magic. 

Here's a thought: Make my tip of the month an assignment for yourself. Give it your spin.

One of the most creative approaches I like to do with trees is create in-camera double exposures. In my book, RIGHT BRAIN PHOTOGRAPHY, I provide step-by-step instructions on how I do this. Basically, my first shot is slightly out of focus. I then superimpose my second shot, which is in sharp focus. When the two blend in-camera, it looks like this.

I would not suggest combining more than two images--it looks too "muddy" beyond two. 

Unique perspectives also give trees a unique look and appeal. Most people, when they do something like this, look straight up, from eye level. I placed my camera on my tripod near the tree on the left, only eighteen inches from the ground, and aimed straight up. All I could do was estimate the angle I needed. Based on my test shot from eye level, I knew I had to over-expose the image by + 2 2/3 stops. I also made sure my focusing point was about 1/3 from the bottom of my viewfinder, in order to get as much depth of field as possible. 

For these trees in the woods surrounded by an early snowfall, I simply moved my camera
downward slightly to create a painterly effect. This is more art than science, so it might take two or three tries to get what I want. I don't want to make my camera movement too fast or too slow. Too fast of a movement just gives me a blur; too slow of a movement makes it look like a mistake.  

I was walking along a dry river bed in Forth Worth, Texas looking for a good early sunrise shot of the Fort Worth skyline. Whenever I go on any photo walk or hike, I like to look behind me occasionally, to make sure I'm not missing out on anything. On this particular early morning, I couldn't see anything in front of me that caught my eye so I turned around and saw this scenario developing! Knowing the impermanence of the sun's location, I had to work fast. The colors in the eastern horizon, behind these interesting tree shapes, led me to reach quickly for my FLD filter, which gave this sunrise a unique effect. Get yourself an FLD filter and experiment with both sunrises and sunsets--they produce amazing results!

I first started experimenting with FLD filters during film days. They were designed to use when shooting under Florescent Lighting with Daylight film. Try it.   

Sometimes color itself can command the stage, as these dogwoods in spring in the Ozarks demonstrate. This scenario screamed color and shapes. 

You can't go wrong with simple autumn tree reflections in a body of water, as in this scene,
also in the Arkansas Ozarks. 

Have you ever tried photographing during the day with your white balance set on Florescent? 
Try it someday--you might surprise yourself. 

Trees in winter is also a favorite. I found these trees in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado during one of my winter workshops. There wasn't much color in the scene so I converted the original to a B&W image to emphasize white snow on dark bark.

Trees. They're all around us. We don't have excuses not to photograph them. Think perspective, reflections, the four seasons, on-camera filtration, double exposures, camera movement, out-of-the box white balance, black & white images, and other approaches I didn't mention. 

Our eyes are limited. Our imaginations are endless. I don't see with my eyes; I see with my imagination.     

1 comment:

  1. The photography blog was very beautiful. Keep posting more in the future blog post.
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