Black and white photography is all about patterns and lines. Despite their complexity, these roots in one of the remnants of Vancouver Island’s old growth forests caught my eye for the flow of their lines as they intertwine toward the eventual straight upthrusting lines of the trunk.
Natural beauty can often be overwhelming, particularly for photographers. Sometimes there seems to be nothing to shoot, but more often, there is too much. This is often the case in my verdant and prolific coastal forests. Much as an hours’ walk through this forest fed my soul, a sense of frustration grew as I thought that somewhere I should be able to extract a fine art image. Yet there was always a bush in the wrong place, a fallen trunk in the way – nowhere was there an uncluttered pattern. At these times, Galen Rowell and Art Wolf run through my mind, and I think sadly, “A real photographer could make something out of this!” The solution is to find and capture a single element from a complex whole, and build one’s image from that small nugget. And be patient; give the world time to speak to you about how it wants to be seen. If you can, revisit the place again and again, in the morning, in the afternoon sun, in the rain, in the midst of a storm when the trees and bushes are tossing about. Eventually, it will speak to you and you will know what to do.
This is one of the few nature images that I have taken in 6×6 format with the Ensign 820 , and it works well in this case. It it good to lock yourself into a new format for a roll, and be forced to find images in new places. XP-2 competently picked up the delicate gradations of line and shadow. Local Contrast Enhancement brought life to the image, followed by minimal cropping of the edges to remove an undeveloped strip on one side. A significant increase in contrast and a slight drop in brightness accentuated the lighter fine lines of the bark and dropped out distracting detail in the shadows, highlighting the flow of the roots. Fortunately, the lighting in this forest glade was diffuse sunlight filtered through the forest canopy high above, so there were no highlights to deal with. On this static subject, I maximized depth of field at f/22 and used a long exposure.