August 16, 2010

A Beech is a Beech is a Beech...

I love trees!
And we have some very impressive and old ones in the vicinity - mostly oaks and beeches.
But to capture the "true" impression of the tree is a real challenge: Often they are surrounded by other trees, the sky produces a strong contra-light while the bark is dark, exposure is critical, and lastly those trees are so huge that even large-aperture lenses cannot isolate them sufficiently.
In this shot I used a wide-angle (21mm film-equivalent) to capture the treetop and combined it with a very low vantage-point. This normally leads to an exaggerate perspective but as a tree is a three-dimensional subject which is as deep as it is wide you can still get a nicely balanced impression of the trunk and the canopy. The original capture was very dark, which quite nicely reflected the overcast and drizzly weather. I tried some exposure compensation but that only led to a glaring sky and a harsh and grainy bark - which totally defeated the original gloomy impression. So I went to some extreme curves trying to balance the bark, the leaves and the sky. This in turn introduced some false yellow, red and blue colors. I desaturated the blue as it looked simply strange and kept the yellow and red leaves as it added a touch of autumn. I also created some dreamy bark textures and ghost-like lighting effects on the trunk, which I found quite fitting for such an old, old tree.

So here is the result of some over-the-top post-processing to capture the "aura" of an old beech.

Psychedelic Beech:
Psychedelic Beech

And here is the original.

After the first 100 views I had only 2 comments on the forums: one favoring the "natural" version and one relating to the difficulties of capturing trees.
So you could consider the "Psychedelic Beech" a roaring failure!
What do you think?

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