More Bark Pictures for You!
It's always fun when you bring new photographic interests with you to a new location. Something that may not have caught your attention in the past may do so now, because you've become more aware of it. I've written before (click for article at Slow Photography Movement website) about my growing fascination with tree bark, something which started during a Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness visit a couple years back. Trees have always fascinated me at a larger scale, and I love to find trees with character, or that somehow stand apart from their background, to take their "portraits". You can see my growing gallery of tree portraits here. But trees, when looked at up close, reveal a whole new world of detail and interest... Something that I want to keep capturing moving forward.
So, during a quiet and clear morning walking the beach in Guánica, Puerto Rico, when not many larger compositions caught my attention, and shortly after capturing "Shadows on the Shore" (the first image in my last blog entry, which featured palm tree shadows), I thought: What about the palm tree bark? So I decided to walk along the shore, from palm tree to palm tree, looking for interesting textures and for sections where the light was hitting the bark "just right". I came back with two keepers.
I like the first one, "Palm Tree Bark 1" (above), because of its simplicity. While the textures create a balanced composition throughout the frame, the image is about revealing the directionality of the light as it starts working its way around the circumference of the trunk. I can almost still feel the morning light on my right side as I look the image. The more textured areas of the trunk create enough interest and contrast with the areas that show a softer gradient.
The second image, "Palm Tree Bark 2" (below), is different in that it focuses on an interesting geometric pattern found on the bark. While I found several similar instances as I walked the beach, this was the one in which the direction of the light worked together with the texture to create a beautiful contrast, maybe even a little bit of "drama" in its effect.
Both images are examples of working with the available light, when what is widely considered "optimal" light for photography is not available. Light is always doing something interesting somewhere, and if you pay attention, you might just find it.
I had to raise my ISO for both of these images, for two reasons. First, I was shooting handheld at telephoto range, so to ensure a sharp image, I had to use reasonable shutter speeds (thankfully my stabilized lens helps with this). But on top of that, tree trunks curve away rapidly from you, creating depth of field issues. If I had brought my tripod, I could have considered focus stacking... But that's exactly the kind of thing I didn't want to do on this day, or on this trip. So I did my best shooting hand held. I was OK with letting the edges go a bit soft, but I wanted enough of the frame in focus to allow for the majority of the texture to be sharp through the center of the frame. In the end, one of the images was captured at ISO 640, the other at ISO 800, at 1/60 and 1/100 seconds respectively, both at f/11.
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