The Forest Challenge

June 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I always enjoy the sights and sounds when walking in a forest. However, I usually find myself disappointed in the photographs I take on these occasions. This is probably because I like simple structures and clear contrast of light or colour in most cases, but the forest is a tangle of un-coordinated growth. At times I try to solve this problem by selecting small segments of the scene. I may also switch to black and white or monochrome to stress the lines rather than the colour. Sometimes none of this works. A path, river or stream can help, but not always. I'm going to illustrate with a group of photographs taken in early May in Tynehead regional park in Surrey, BC.

These cedars are joined like Siamese twins. I quickly gave up trying to get most of the trees in the image and focussed on the strong shape of the base. Initially, I thought the front fern would spoil the balance, but now I like the disruption for the eye and the point of interest that it provides. The tangle of the backdrop seems to set context more than irritate. The original raw file showed much more contrast with the background looking faint, almost blown out. So thanks to Capture One 8's recovery tools for this image. I thought black and white would work well for this picture, but I do miss the rich reddish-brown tones in the colour view. Here they are:

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I rarely use toned black and white on forest shots, but this one seemed to work best with a touch of green in the shadows to mid-tones. It's a busy shot, but the strong lines of the cedars close to me save it in my opinion. And the forest is indeed complex, which I should show in some photos.

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The Serpentine River starts as a stream in Tynehead and appears here quite near its source in the west side of the park. In this shot the trees frame the river and form a secondary subject.

Tynehead Additions 2015-9Tynehead Additions 2015-9 In the next shot, the river seems to follow an L-shape course and the forest takes precedence or at least shares it equally with the river.

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In this final pair, the Serpentine reflects the surrounding forest. They are equal partners in an image that appeals to me for its wide range of greens and rather peaceful appearance. I am including a black and white of the same shot in which I have edited to bring out more contrast in tones. I wonder which is better. I am going with the black and white this time.

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