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Standing Tall

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 23 September 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Pine trees on the coast of NW England.

There's always an on-shore wind from the west in this part of England and the trees that survive the frequent gales all grow with their branches facing inland, away from the prevailing wind.

NIKON D40 1/160 second F/11.0 ISO 200 42 mm (35mm equiv.)

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Pavan Kaul from Mumbai, India

Great light and composition Ian! I love the dark the burn out on the sand intentional?

23 Sep 2009 5:25am

@Pavan Kaul: Thanks Pavan!....I was trying to get an image with a full range of tones in it but without blowing the detail in the whites. If you open up the photo in Photoshop and crop off the white border you should see that the sand stops just short of the 255 white clipping point on a histogram. Controling the white point is an aspect of photo post processing that I'm still struggling a bit with and I'm also aware that not everybodys computer screen will show the same degree of contrast and highlight. I'm considering working to a lower clipping point of, say 250 instead for this reason.

Stephen Phillips from San Francisco, United States

Great job here, Ian - with a stellar composition and beautiful tone and range. I discovered this at VFXY and it just jumped at me. 5 stars and a collection addition!

23 Sep 2009 5:33am

@Stephen Phillips: Thanks very much Stephen!

Ann from Cedarburg, United States

I like this photo in b&w, with the dark sky, light cloud and the tones within the stand of trees.

23 Sep 2009 9:59am

@Ann: Thanks for that Ann!....I think I could spend the rest of my life trying to learn about B&W photography and still be experimenting with it.

lux from Munich, Germany

Very nice one. I like the title too.

23 Sep 2009 12:07pm

@lux: Thanks very much!

John Leech from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

Tricky subject, and one where I don't think the histograms and numerical values should be looked at too closely. I like the chiaroscuro values between the white boughs and black shadow. But the differential between the top left and bottom right is something that you can play around with for weeks and still come back to have different thoughts. I'm finding this with my recent Lakeland cottages where I've worked really hard on an image, then you look at it the next day, or even a few minutes later (!) and start to question values - the one I often find is that my images can look dull in areas that should be glowing. Back to your trees - I like the principle of having these opposite corners in opposite shades, but it isn't instantly clicking with me. I'm pretty sure that my problem is with the foreground tree, its foliage blending too much with the sky. This tree is the prime subject of the image and I'm finding the top is a compromise. Meanwhile, the sand is merely a supporting role, and far less important. I think solving the top would either make the image, or at least point to any further adjustments to the sand. That's my view of it, you may have different intentions?

23 Sep 2009 12:34pm

@John Leech: Thanks very much for that's just the kind of thing I needed. I did play around with the sky quite a bit as I realised that the tops of those two trees at the front were a potential problem with the sky. Just like you mentioned I went round in circles with the processing of a number of the photos in this set as there's so many ways of approaching the B&W conversion from colour.....just look at the difference between these two versions of the same photo (again from the same area):

elena from Turin, Italy

fantastic b&w! the lights make it seem three-dimensional image!!!

23 Sep 2009 1:54pm

@elena: Thanks Elena!

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Exquisite monochrome.

23 Sep 2009 2:11pm

@john4jack: Thanks Jack!

John Leech from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

Interesting comparison, it would be easy to think those two examples were different photos altogether. But that's the thing I like most about digital, the ability to take and image in two different directions in the conversion. I would definitely try a hybrid with those two - I like the graphic starkness of the top light sky, the centre region dune detail of the darker one, and the foreground textures and detail of the light one again. There are a few shots where I'm shying away from overly dark skies these days - I'll still use them, but washed out skies can have a very pure wide eye feeling. However, I don't see that as the solution to the current image above!

23 Sep 2009 2:42pm

Viewfinder from Bradenton, FL, United States

Quite nice. The way these trees grow away from the wind shows an understanding not only of the technical aspects of photo taking and processing, but also of the subject being photographed. Very well done, Ian. I agree with Stephen - 5 stars today.

23 Sep 2009 3:21pm

@Viewfinder: Thanks Glenn!

Mags from Paris, France

Very nicely done, loce this contrast!

23 Sep 2009 6:52pm

@Mags: Thanks Mags!

Paolo from Udine, Italy

very nice, it reminds me some photos by ansel adams

23 Sep 2009 9:24pm

@Paolo: Thanks Paolo.....that's the highest compliment you could anyone whose interested in B&W photography.

Anne from White Rock, Canada

I was taught that in photography you sometimes have to give something up to gain elsewhere, in these wide range of lighting conditions. Your photo of the trees, sky and sand is beautiful. I see the sand with some detail and not completely blown out. Perhaps that has something to do with the Spyder2Express monitor calibrating software I bought earlier this year. What I see is what I get. But I was also instructed to re-calibrate it once per month. It keeps giving me a reminder that I am long overdue to do that. The on line free calibration was not so great, and still saw my photos differently on several other computers. Well worth the money! I too see a likeness to Ansel Adams photos and I can count 10 zones from black to white - which is near perfect! Sorry to be away so long! :-)

24 Sep 2009 1:47am

@Anne: Thanks very much Anne. There's so much to learn about in B&W photography isn't there!....I've been practicising hard with it for over 2 years now and there's still so much to learn (I haven't even studied Ansel's zone system yet). I'm pleased that you thought the calibration was okay - I've been trying to keep my whites just below 255 on my recent B&W photos but I will often let areas of the black go completely black.

JannuD from Bengaluru, India

Nice shot

24 Sep 2009 4:51am

@JannuD: Thanks Jannu!

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

I don't want to start getting all technical here, the picture either works or it doesn't and this one works beautifully. The sand isn't blown out and I think you're doing the right thing by keeping the whites just short of 255.

24 Sep 2009 6:44am

@Mike: Hi Mike!....yes, I agree that photos either work or they don't and that good composition, interesting light and a great subject form the core elements of any photo but with my recent B&W photos I've also been trying to get a full range of tones from white to black and also to balance them in a way that compliments the subject of the photo. It all adds an extra layer of complexity to something that I never used to give a lot of thought to.

Pavan Kaul from Mumbai, India

Yes, Ian. I picked up a D 700 recently. Must say it is a joy to use although I am quite sentimental about my good ole D 70 which still serves me very well and has it's own points. The FX format however is another experience altogether. I do plan to use both though. Just hope I can manage to get away some and then often enough to do some serious photography. In the meanwhile I must be content to feed my soul on the brilliant and inspirational work of Ian Branham and a few other truly talented artists! Cheers:)

24 Sep 2009 8:20am

@Pavan Kaul: I'm very envious of your new camera Pavan!....from your last photo it also looks like you've got a lovely lens to go with it - it's the 70-200 f2.8 I presume?

Luca Bobbiesi from Milano, Italy

I like the contrast

24 Sep 2009 12:48pm

@Luca Bobbiesi: Thanks Luca!

Alun from cheshire, United Kingdom

great image, love the contrast

24 Sep 2009 6:54pm

Pavan Kaul from Mumbai, India

Yes Ian, it is:)

25 Sep 2009 1:09am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Outstanding composition and tones!

27 Sep 2009 4:53am

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Very beautiful I like the contrast and the light

28 Sep 2009 4:54am

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

Oops, big discussion here! :) Big dynamic ranges are always challenging (as I'm always learning in churches on bright sunny days), but I think that you mastered this situation (gradient from dark to bright in the sky, dark forest with bright stems, very bright ground) extremely well, as always. :-) The subject is well chosen, too, these trees live a tough life!

28 Sep 2009 9:53am

bluechameleon from Vancouver, Canada

I'm impressed with your control over the exposure here. Many contrasts, but nothing at all seems overblown. Compliments.

29 Sep 2009 3:21am

1/160 second
ISO 200
42 mm (35mm equiv.)