Wednesday, November 10, 2010

That Tree Again

I was looking for a better vantage point for a sunrise picture of this tree, when I noticed a large stone in the field, which just happened to mark the exact spot I was looking for.

This set me thinking about an entirely different picture: a vertical panoramic with the stone as foreground interest. I knew that I would need a telephoto lens to compress the perspective (i.e. bring the stone and tree apparently closer together). This would cause me another issue in that I would not have sufficient depth of field to render both the stone and the tree sharply. Also the foreground was in virtual darkness, so I would need to light it some how. Flash seemed the obvious answer, and I liked the idea of the surreal effect this might give.

In the end, my simple pre-visualisation had become a technically complex image to execute. I decided to use a focus-stacking technique, using two captures: one focused on the stone and lit by flash; the other focused on the tree and exposed to keep the intense colours in the sky. Add in the fact that all of this had to be executed by torch light and in the freezing cold! The two images were merged in Photoshop and then cropped to the 3:1 (or is that 1:3?) format you see.

Does it work? I must admit that I am not 100% convinced, but it is faithful to my original visualisation, and I think, quite striking. Let me know what you think.

You can buy a print of this image here.

Photographic Notes

This image was taken with a Nikon D3 and 70-200mm lens (set to 125mm) and a SB-800 flashgun attached by a SC-17 cord and held above the camera, which was set at knee height on a tripod.

If I were to try a similar shot, then I would consider using a 85mm tilt/shift lens on a DX sensor camera, which would possibly deliver the front to back depth of field needed in one single exposure (the stone and the tree are in focus in this image, the bits in front and between are not, but I do not think this detracts from this image too much).

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