Gnarly old man

October 23, 2009
Gnarly old man

4sec @ f/9.0
55mm, ISO200, +1ev
Evaluative Metering
Tripod Mounted
Cable Shutter Release
Mirror Up
Nikon D300
AF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6

This photo was taken at Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island. The tallest trees in this small provincial park measure just under 80 metres in height, 9 metres in circumference and are around 800 years old. If and when one of these trees comes toppling down the roots are exposed to the elements and you can see how something this tall and wide can stand upright for 800 years. It is difficult to get a shot showing the size of these trees, I think perhaps with a wide angle lens you could get up close to one of the trees and it might show some scale. Even a fish-eye might look good. BUT I didn’t have either of those luxuries. So with my trusty 18-55mm I got creative and tried something a little more abstract. This is one of my favourite shots from the trip. When you look at it long enough you start to see things in the roots. In the centre of the image there looks to be a gnarly old man with a beard.

One point to make about taking shots at sunset in an old growth forest – it’s dark. Take a tripod and expect to work at longer shutter speeds – especially if you have slow glass and want to work at low ISO. I boosted the exposure compensation here to get the histogram over to the right. There were lots of shadows that are easy for digital noise to hide in – so it is almost easier to over-expose the shot and then work with level adjustments on the RAW file to tame the highlights. Obviously don’t blow the highlights just work to get the graph weighted to the right rather than the left. I used a cable shutter release with the mirror up to reduce vibration to an absolute minimum. It was a little overkill, but the sharper the shot is in camera the less work you have in PhotoShop. Get it right IN CAMERA!!