Old Bones

Hello All,

So I have been living among the redwoods for the past 4 years and to say the least, the visual cacophony has been overwhelming, so much so that it has been hard to even find the right composition. Well, this redwood with these old bones of branches has been staring me in the face for the whole time. I finally saw this in the right light and decided to make a photo of it. I think I have captured it as it is.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

What I would like help with is cropping. I am including three versions. The original was made on 4x5 film, so that is my starting reference. The first two are still in the 4x5 format. Version 1 is cropped from the top, version 2 is cropped from the bottom and version 3 is cropped from the sides into a 35mm format, which is 2x3. Which works better or if you have a different crop idea, let me know.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

Single frame, Shen-Hao 4x5, Nikon 500 mm f/11 telephoto lens, at f16 and 45 seconds.
My normal processing.

Version 1

Version 2

Version 3

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Youssef, I prefer version 1. It has a good balance between the warm details in the trunk, the stark dead branches and the nice greens in the background. Versions 2 and 3 give more weight to the dead branches.

Love that tree. Lots of character, color and texture. Great eye to see this. I prefer crop 3 because it cuts out some of the distracting BG, especially the tree on the left with it’s diagonal branches leading out of the frame and the half cut off vertical tree trunk.


I’m certainly glad you finally decided to capture this. I can only imagine living in the woods as you do and being visually overwhelmed on a daily basis. I think you’ve isolated a fine piece of your home environment.

I’m gonna make the choice even harder and settle on #2. Initially I was favoring the taller, thinner #3 that cropped out the darkness on the left. But after a few views I decided that sliver of dark trunk on the left framed the side nicely.

The dead branches are a primary element in all version. I eventually settle on #2 because the slight top crop cuts in to the brightest branches top center which draw the eye a little; the crop mitigates that.

Not a big deal - but have you considered rotating this CW a couple degrees? Of course we all know trees don’t grow exactly vertical much of the time, so I’m sure this is perfectly natural. I guess with the tighter crop along the sides it’s more noticeable.

The only other suggestion is the thicker angled branch coming in from left - I would desaturate the red their. Also a slight eye magnet. Minor nit.

Love the rich color of the redwood. Great eye and crafting of this portrait.


I agree with this for the reasons that were stated.

Love the colors and details in this, Youssef! Glad you took the time to capture it. I have to vote for composition #1, simply because of the bottom branch that is cut off too short in the middle bottom of the other compositions. A nice shot, no matter which one you look at though!