I’ve been sitting on this image for a few months now. I sometimes like it but other times it just feels blah and I want to delete it. I tried to separate the old limber pine from the background and I don’t know if what I did is enough. When I was shooting this, I tried a lot of different angles, including from much lower (to get that separation) but I didn’t like how the tree looked then and this composition felt the best. Still I’m not sure if it is enough.
Specific Feedback Requested
Is this a composite: No
I can see why you like this image and why you aren’t in love with it. This tree reminded me of the one overlooking Yosemite Valley that Weston first photographed. If the tree didn’t have those pine needles you would have been in great shape. The form of the tree would have been better revealed and have given greater emotional impact. I think you did great with what you had from the point of view of the angle and direction you made the shot.
Yeah, I can see why you are ambivalent on this image. On on hand the tree has a nice shape from this perspective, and its shape/texture translates well to B&W. But while you have some decent tonal separation of the tree, the background feels too intrusive. Part of that is how the horizon merges with the tree, and part of it is how the trees on the distant hillside merge with the main tree. While a lower perspective would help with separation, I can see why this point of view might hurt the apparent shape of the tree. I think this scene as presented would work if you were able to shoot it in white-out snow conditions, or in fog, where you could hide the horizon better. If this is someplace you can easily re-visit, it might be worth going back under different weather conditions.
Could using a telephoto lens from a distance accomplish something similar? I think it might.
It might if that could be combined with shooting from a vantage point that had slightly more elevation than the tree. It depends on the layout of this location. You need just enough of a different angle of view to get the top of the tree below the horizon.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to comment on this image! I agree that a nice fog would help clean the image up nicely and maybe someday I will get the chance to shoot it in those conditions. I will also try more telephoto shots when I go back there but I’m not sure I’ll find a good vantage point.
I looked through my image library again and I have another potential composition that I will work on post-processing. I’ll upload it here when it’s done.
I have to disagree that the main issue is the competing bg but if you feel that it is why not process the bg to create greater separation. Such as dodging the darker tones.
I’ve edited the image slightly (original post) and I’ve dodged the darks in the background as Igor suggested. I think it definitely helps.