Trunkated

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Motley. Eden Grove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 145mm, 1/8 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

Last week I promised some very different images and I’m a little worried that the first two might not live up to that billing because they are both foresty. But the later ones will get there!

I love the combination of mottled light and patchy colors on the tree trunk above. The trunk itself barely reaches out of the top of the frame, which is probably one reason why the noon-time sun can reach it at all—the rest of the tree that would have shaded it is lying on the ground nearby! The composition is simple and makes the most of the symmetry of the subject while leaving a little room on both sides for context: the overall busyness of the forest is very much in evidence, but doesn’t clutter the image or hide the subject. There is nice color contrast between the subject and the background, too. In forests like this, it is often hard to make a photograph where it is clear what the subject is, but here it is pretty obvious. Given the rich textures, this image is also in the it-would-make-a-nice-large-print category.

While I like this next image, too, I do regret the fact that I used f/9.5—a wider aperture would have blurred the background a little more and the subject would have stood out better. I think that f/5.6 would have been perfect, but I should have taken several variations so that I would have a choice. I did make a half-hearted attempt to use Lightroom’s relatively new “lens blur” tool—and I’ll probably try harder sometime—but it wanted to blur the little branches along with the background and that wasn’t helpful. I should be able to manually exclude these, but that feature seemed a little buggy and even if it weren’t, it was going to take more time than I wanted to spend on it. It would have been a lot easier to have just done it right to start with. As it is, it’s okay but falls short of what it could have been.

Starting Over. Eden Grove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 65mm, 1.0 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

This next image was on the beach right behind our main meeting place for the workshop. It’s a big driftwood tree trunk that some plants now call home. It must have been tossed up there during a big storm at high tide, because it was pretty far from the water. As with the above images, the basic green-versus-reddish color contrast is nice, as are the textures.

Stumped. Dwarf blackberry growing in stump. Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 24mm, 1/250 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

And now we’re getting to some of the promised unusual stuff:

Beastly. Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S at 19.5mm, 1/90 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

This tortured piece of massive driftwood definitely looks like a monster of some kind. It’s not just the perspective that makes it look big, either—it was several feet taller than me. I do wish that I had moved slightly to the right to hide that second piece of driftwood behind it, but with some effort I can probably make that magically disappear. The light really emphasizes the subject, though, so it’s not a big issue. This patch of light was short-lived, so I was working quickly and this is the only composition I ended up with. Interesting or not, being a somewhat creepy image, I don’t think it will find its way to a bedroom wall.

At some point during the trip I started doing some focus stacks. My camera makes this pretty easy and will take a whole sequence of images, each focused at a slightly different distance. You do have to combine them yourself later, but this isn’t hard with the right software. For this next image, it is the only way to have everything in focus and show off the contrast between the texture of the mushrooms and the driftwood they are attached to. I often like images with a very narrow color palette, and this is no exception. This image is all about contrasting shapes and contrasting textures. The angle of the light also helps those textures stand out. This was actually one of the last couple images I made on the entire trip as we headed back to the car from the last beach we visited. I’m glad it caught my eye.

Fungi on Driftwood. Focus stack. Sandcut Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 93mm, 1/90 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

The tree below was right outside the window of our meeting room. It had started raining, and I was rather captivated by this tree. After staring at it for a while, I decided to go be uncomfortable and figure out how to photograph it. This is another focus stack and I don’t see any other way to make this image. I had to zoom in quite a bit (280mm!) to isolate this portion of the tree, but I absolutely love the result. The combination of smooth wood and peeling bark, the sheen of the wet wood, the drips of water, the colors, the shapes—there’s a lot going on here but it makes a coherent whole. Without the rain, this image wouldn’t be nearly as nice. It is the reflections off the wet areas that show off the form of the separate parts of the tree. Without those, the flat lighting would have made the separate layers merge together. Sometimes that works—the result is somewhat abstract—but I think this is so much better. It is one of my favorite images from the trip, and I made it during down time between sessions!

Barkin’ in the Rain. Focus stack. Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 280mm, 1/45 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500.

I hope that you enjoyed these images. Next week will be back in the forest proper at Eden Grove. I currently have three dozen image candidates for next week, so I have a little culling ahead of me to get down to my typical six! There’s a lot of variety there, so it is going to be hard.

I’ve started to mix up the layout a bit on these posts. The vertical images always effectively showed up a lot larger than the horizontals, so I have tried using a wider width for some horizontals. Let me know if you like that in the comments.

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4 responses to “Trunkated”

  1. Hi Jim. I love the big cat in the driftwood – a jaguar I think. You’re right about the second image, those tiny new stems don’t stand out as well as they could. I like the contrasts and textures on the last two images. It’s good to see something different from you.

    • Thank you, Nicola! I’m glad you like those ones; I do have some other close-up focus stacks that will show up in a few weeks, I think. (And you convinced me to put the second image in the Hall of Shame under “Wrong Aperture”. Sigh.) I’m interested to know what you think about a few of the ones that will be up this weekend.

      I’ll try to do “different” a little more often! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed this set of images, Jim, including the one that you have added to your Hall of Shame. I like the subtlety of the blurring. Colours throughout the set are deep.

    I’ve never had a problem as such with your vertical v horizontal (portrait/landscape) images – at least, not one of which I have been conscious. On this occasion, though, no matter how I reshape the Outlook window or reduce the font and other sizes, I can’t see the whole of Starting Over other than by scrolling. Sorry – I imagine that is not what you wanted to read.

    • Thank you, Rob! You bring up a good point about that image; I can get it to almost fit vertically. My suspicion is that usually I keep the verticals to a 4:5 ratio, but that one is at 2:3 (effectively 4:6 instead of 4:5) and maybe that is just tall enough to be a problem when included at that width. I will keep an eye out for that. When I am putting the post together it doesn’t look that way, but although I check the preview and the preview does show that problem, I just didn’t notice. Thanks for the feedback; I don’t mind it at all!