They compose themselves. I can't stop myself from looking at them as figures, projecting anthropomorphic ideas onto them that are unjustified, childish and silly but nevertheless that is how I approach trees when carrying a camera...
As I look over my work, I think there is no single answer -- other than perhaps I approach things intuitively. It could be an overall shape, alone or relating to other elements in the frame. It might be a line or curve or group of curves. Maybe an odd perspective such as looking upward into starkly lit branches. I have often been attracted by sycamores with their flaky bark patches, especially highlighted against a deep autumn sky when the trees are bare.
Sometimes it's about texture. A few years back I took a shot of sycamore tree bark trying out my Bronica macro lens. I got in close and captured about a 12 inch square section of tree trunk (it's in my gallery stuff here). I entered it in an art show under the title "Sycamore." It got a modest award from a judge who is a painter and quite outspoken about believing paintings and photographs shouldn't mix in shows. But in her judge's comments she left "What a creative approach to photographing a tree! Only an artist would pick up on the design offered by nature." One of those "gee, did I do that?" moments! It later sold out of another show. Was it carefully planned, no, just happened the lighting on the nearby tree caught my eye as I was sitting in my car finishing a cup of coffee before going for a walk with the camera. The shot was selected from several taken that morning, but I can't recall any formal process to the one picked -- just that "I liked it best."
Sorry -- a lot of blather to say "go with your gut instinct." :)
My favorite place to photograph; Carbon prints of various sizes (5x7 and 8x10):
Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour
They're quite atmospheric images, Vaughn. I resorted to a 24mm tilt/shift lens on my last visit to Avenue of The Sequoias in Victoria's Great Otway National Park, but still ran into problems getting their 75m height. I swapped to 45mm (MF) with studies of the light and shade on the lower trunks in arrangements (similar to photo 4 in your line-up) and this worked very well indeed. They are huge, graceful, straight and very sturdy trees; planted in 1936 as part of an experimental plot on land that gets a lot of fog and mist, which is how sequoias 'drink', by taking in moisture from their crowns. I will return again this winter for more imaging.
when i photograph trees i tend to see them i several ways.
one might be a compositional element if i see them from a distance
as the get closer to me i see them differently almost like living sculptures
not sure if that makes sense.
cliveh, i totally understand the meditative approach you suggest to your students.
and can see how people have worshipped and have had a religious/spiritual connection to
trees and woodlands ...
All I know is I've been trying since I was 12 for a good tree print...
I go with what my eyes enjoy,regardless of the fact that it is a tree.I generally like an aspect of shape or texture or color..the treeness of it.I dont try to show the whole thing as a specimen documentation.
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I love trees. I even find myself talking to them occasionally!
Sometimes I use my 6x12 camera on its side:
Photograph any ash trees you see around you in the US. They won't be around much longer.
Why is that?
Originally Posted by Hatchetman