Dark Forest

Dark Forest

f/6.3, 1/50, ISO-200, 18mm

To be honest, I don’t care much for this photograph. I’ve been holding it back for weeks trying to make something of it, but truth is there’s just nothing there to make something of. There isn’t a focus of attention. It isn’t about anything. I tried making it about color (originally it’s full of vibrant greens and very pretty) and then I converted to black and white attempting to make it about emotion. Well, I think it is moodier and more inclined to produce an emotional response, but it still isn’t about anything.

There are technical issues too. The depth of field isn’t the best because I wasn’t able to close the aperture enough to to get good DOF. This means that with nothing really clearly in focus (or at least standing out as being in focus) it’s not really clear what you should be looking at. It’s balanced in the sense that a picture of the sky is balanced – when the whole picture is kind of the same thing, balance is just sort of built-in, not achieved.

Still, I suppose I have to say that the balance of dark vs. light is ok. Dark in the two corners, light in the other two. There are some fairly interesting things about the way the sunlight falls through the leaves, but not enough to really redeem the picture.

So if I don’t like the picture, why did I post it? Well, as explained in my About page, this blog is supposed to be about my journey learning to photograph, so I thought I’d post something I’m not all that happy with and explain why. I think I’ll be doing more of this in the future. It’s a good process to sit and really think hard about why a picture isn’t doing anything for me. Makes me think in a detailed way about mistakes I made and how I would have corrected them.

In this case, I would have put the camera on a tripod, closed the shutter to at least 11, and let the shutter open for as long as it needed to. This would have at least fixed the depth of field problem. This may not have worked well either, as I recall there was a slight breeze wafting around that would have resulted in blurry leaves.

But the main thing I would have done was changed the composition. I don’t remember for sure what I was even going for with that photo any more, but I think my attention was focused on the line created by the hill on the left side. I should have scratched that idea and moved the camera around an inch to the right and made the lit pathway through the trees the focus of the shot. I’m not sure why I didn’t. It may be there was a parking lot just off camera to the right (in which case I should have just moved my body instead), or it may be that I just didn’t see the correct image potential when I was actually standing in front of the scene.

I know that I still have a lot to learn about studying light and how the camera will record it. I suspect that I just wasn’t aware of how dramatic the right side of the picture could be lit.

Another thing: I’m still not all that convinced that the picture couldn’t be improved as it is just by notching up the brightness a bit. But I decided to go with showing as intense a change as possible between light and dark to evoke a mood.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Dark Forest

  1. There are many things you could have done differently, but when you step back and look at the shot as a whole there is something there. The focus of attention is the entire scene, and it’s about a moment in time, taking a moment to stop and look around at the trees and the light. Sometimes I have been hesitant to publish shots because I was lost in the technical details and sure everyone would see the horrible flaw I saw – then I would put it out there and discover people were taking in the entire image and judging it that way. If I only published perfect shots I think my site would only have 3 or 4 photos on it. :-)

    • I gave up a long time ago on getting perfect pictures to publish :) Thanks for the kind words and this visibility into another person’s perspective on it. The picture is somewhat helped by the reduced size, as it creates a sharpness to it that wasn’t there in the original. This picture was taken in almost the exact same spot as this one https://ajbopp.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/entrance-to-nowhere/ but looking a different direction. The distinction between the two could hardly be more striking. Perhaps because of the proximity of the two scenes I’m trying too hard to compare them rather than taking each at its own merit.

      In any case, while I see a lot technically wrong with this picture, it’s not the flaws that stand out to me. To me it’s just generally uninteresting, but I’m glad that my opinion is not universally shared!

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