Charred Redwood


Shadows lifted per Lon’s suggestion:

I went to the coastal redwood forest to photograph fog but came back with works of bark. The fog wasn’t present the first day so I turned my attention to wood details and after the fog came back I was too absorbed in my work to pay attention to it.

This is a pretty dark image so I’m interested if you think that should be changed. I really like the blacks here and the rich colors of the weathered wood, lichens, and anything else that’s growing on it.

Also I thought some cropping from the top might change this for the better. I didn’t do it because I sort of like that elongated look but I see some good alternatives What do you think?

It’s sort of a moody thing, isn’t it? That’s how I felt in the midst of these woods after the fog rolled in. It’s what I was after.

GFX50R, 45-100mm, f/11

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Definitely moody, Igor. I don’t know about cropping. The curve of the trunk adds a touch of grace, even though the curve isn’t that strong. The verticals lighten it up visually, I think, because it’s overall so dark, if that makes sense. The colors and textures are wonderful.

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I love these weathered giants, along with their taste in climate. I love this one and don’t find it too dark at all. There is lovely detail in the darks. The subtle colors and sweeping lines (framed so perfectly) set off the rugged aging bark and it’s companion biomass so beautifully! Dusky orange against the subtle gray-greens is perfect!


Been meaning to comment here, but have hesitated because I know how wordy I can get and I’m not quite sure how to express myself here.

You know that for the most part, I’m not generally in tune with another photographer’s intent or have emotional reactions or interpretations. I’m pretty much visual and literal.

Having said that, I do have a reaction to this and that is one of the stories perhaps this old giant could tell. The history, the trauma, fire scars, old growth and all the details captured in this intimate. And so, with that as a backdrop, I’m inclined to want to see that shadow detail - as that is where the burn scars are and I know there is fascinating detail in those shadows; just like there is detail in the redwood fir, the lichen, moss and patterns in the aging, dying bark. For me anyway, the darkest areas take away what I want to learn and see there.

Here’s the other part. I totally understand how you’re trying to project your mood and experience of the moment (being absorbed not paying attention to the fog you were specifically there to photograph…) thru the image to viewer. And this goes back to the whole idea that I, or the viewer, wasn’t there to experience the same emotions. And so I can only go by what I see… and that is a wonderful intimate of this cedar/redwood bark, with all the details that tell the nature story of your subject - except part of the story is missing.

Here’s a simpler statement. IMHO, higher contrast works for mood, emotion and even graphic presentations. But higher contrast doesn’t do well in telling nature stories. I think your intent is the former. I could be wrong.

So there ya go. I hope this made some sense. And hope, and it should not, diminish your experience whatsoever. In fact, I wouldn’t even suggest changing this, because that’s not what your experience was.


Is this better?

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It’s a subtle change and I’m 50-50 on it. The biggest issue is that I’m wondering how much difference there is in shadow detail on different monitors? Maybe not so much now… but in past years it could have been a big difference.

Yes, the change is small. I actually prefer the original. The more you lift the dark areas the less interesting the image becomes to me. That’s why I reluctant to do it. I understand the rules about a good image being exposed properly for a lot of information but I don’t follow that so much.

Igor, first, thank you for considering my suggestion and for taking the time to work and repost.

Totally understand your connection to your original, because that’s your experience and what you wanted for your image. And that’s as it should be.

As the viewer, I prefer the added detail (for all the reasons previously stated.) So thank for the exercise, which if anything, only bolsters your convictions! And that’s a good thing.


Igor, I prefer the original, but then again, I love contrast in general. I think the original sparks a bit more emotion in me and feels like a painting. Nice work!

HI Igor,
I’m with you on lifting the shadows. If the story is partly about being charred, scarred, that story is in the darkness and the depths of the scarring. I love the life on the bark…the lichen taking advantage or perhaps fixing nitrogen in ways the needles no longer can. It’s certainly a worthy image imho.

Count me in for the original too. :slightly_smiling_face:

The original is the one with the most expressiveness to me !

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Expressive. Good term. I’m more interested in it being expressive than the ecological story it tells.

I agree with the comments about preferring the original. Looking at the image abstractly, as a fine art image, I think the dark darks set off the colors in the rest of the image and create a dramatic, stunning photograph. Also, I think the treatment actually enhances the backstory.

@Marylynne_Diggs, @Ben_van_der_Sande, @Lon_Overacker, @David_Bostock, @Diane_Miller, @David_Mullin, @Don_Jacobson

Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I think I’m quite satisfied with this one. Will see how all that black prints up.