After the photographically challenging period through February where I seemed to really struggle to find something I liked for weeks, March turned into an immense month photography wise. There is no doubt that come the end of the year I would probably be able to pick half of my favourite images from the sessions I had in this month – and sometimes you only need a few hours to fill a card with a whole set of images which have impact or poise, the right drama or subtlety. I enjoyed a number of mornings where conditions just played into my hands. Being in the right place at the right time is critical to get the best images but when the weather helps you deliver then things get a little easier.
Subtlety certainly didn’t apply with this month’s image however. Colossus just has it all for me. What is interesting is I rarely try and achieve anything quite like this silhouette wise but the magnificent halo type diffused light ensures that all the glory and sheer size of this wonderful old Oak can be felt from edge to edge…
What Really Makes The Photograph Work For Me?
I did shoot a number of different compositions of this tree on the same morning. I have one colour and another mono both of which I very much like though I’m not sure you’d immediately realise it was the same tree. Subject matter like this is pretty hard to find in the right surroundings making this an extra-special moment for me.
Here are some of the things which stand out for me in the frame;
- I knew immediately what I would call this shot when I stumbled across the scene. Colossus meets every aspect of the description of this grand old tree and it totally dominates the environment where it stands.
- In order to make the most of this tree, it was necessary to go with the ultra-wide option at 14mm. I wasn’t originally sure about the distortion of the background trees at the edge of the frame because I usually do everything I can to avoid such effects, but there is something about those edges which suck you into the centre of the frame even more, making it dominate your vision.
- The combination of thick fog and bright sun doesn’t happen too often and by positioning the light source directly behind the tree allowed me to meter to capture some details in the foreground without the light being blown out. Not an easy one.
- I wanted as many of these great branches in the final frame as possible. They feel like they are reaching forward here too as if they are trying to touch you. For me that’s an interesting optical effect for a 2D image and again I think it keeps the viewer engaged which is usually my objective.
- Filling the frame completely and keeping the absolute minimum of dead space in the foreground ensured a photograph with real impact. It will definitely be one of my favourites at the end of the year…
The Technical Setup
- Taken with the Nikon D800E
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G @ 14mm
- f/11, ISO100, 1/125 into direct sunlight through thick fog
- Tripod, cable release
- Shot in 14bit RAW, manual white balance
- Finished with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS6