This is on a footpath in the forest behind our neighborhood. Nobody will see it like this with their own eyes so I’m calling it abstract. Photo was captured March 8, 2021 under bright midday sun, bluebird sky. It’s in an oak grove. Limbs are totally bare of leaves. The white is moss and lichen.

I was playing with an old unused camera just converted to IR 590 nm. A false color WB was created in Capture One Express, exported to LrC, and used with color sliders in my B&W conversion to produce the black sky and bright white chlorophyll-rich lichen and moss (gives a literal meaning to “white oaks” which is what these trees are).

Specific Feedback Requested

  1. As with all photos within a forest deciding where to crop is a dilemma since no matter where an edge is placed it will cut through some element. Is the dark tree trunk on the right a distraction? Suggestions?

  2. I just reread Sarah’s recent article in Outdoor Photography which led me to reprocess this one to increase the dynamic range. (Thinking of Sarah’s images of Reynisfjara, the Vik sea stacks, and of the backlit cactus.) Did I overdo it?

Technical Details

Sony Nex-7 modified for IR 590 nm, Zeiss Loxia 35mm, f/8, 1/160", ISO 100


Richard, I really like this one for its “weird” look and great, kinda dreamy mood. I wouldn’t crop out the darker trunk on the right. For one I like that there is a variation of shades in the tree trunks and there are so few darker ones already. Also I wouldn’t like aspect ratio if you cropped of the right side since you can’t crop top or bottom any further.
The one thing I see is that there are sports where the sky isn’t dark. Just tiny sports between the twigs. I regularly encounter that when I use Topaz Simplify for a painterly look. When the detail level isn’t set correctly, it treats smaller gaps between twigs wrong and fills them rather than keep them opaque.
Otherwise great mood. I don’t really deal with infrared too much, but this one makes me think about it again :slight_smile:

Holger, actually those bright spots are not sky. They’re globes of lush chlorophyll containing Spanish moss.

What stuck me about the detail revealed by IR is the bright striping of the furrows in the tree bark, easily seen on the trunk near left. This is lichen in the furrows. With only visible spectrum it is pale green with luminosity not very different from surrounding brown bark. But with IR it glows. So this detail of texture in the tree is an IR revelation!

Thanks for the help.

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Great idea successfully pulled off Richard. I enjoy just sitting with the image as is.

Thanks! When the leaves fall (very late this year) I’ll seek another scene.

Hi Richard – Well, we will have to agree to disagree on the definition of abstract, which is perfectly fine! Since it sounds like you have easy access to this location, you could consider working with just the tree canopy as I can see all sorts of interesting patterns and repetition in that part of this scene. The infrared adds some interesting texture to the branches. Just tree canopy studies while excluding everything else from the frame (looking into the tree canopy, looking up, etc) could be a future opportunity for experimenting with this subject.

In terms of the photo here, I do not know much about infrared photography so I don’t feel especially qualified to provide a critique, especially on the processing. I like the strong contrast overall but agree that the right trunk is attracting a lot of attention. I do not necessarily think it is a bad thing though since it has a strong visual counterpoint on the left side. You could consider a crop off the top because there is a branch with leaves sneaking into the corner (those are among the only dominant leaves I see and they break the pattern of the branches at the top of the frame).

In terms of the processing, I think the high contrast works in the lower portion of the frame but the branches at the top look a little crunchy at web size. You could consider revisiting your adjustments to see if you could bring back some of the detail in the fine branches (if the detail is in fact missing – hard to tell on a small jpeg). You could also back off the whites on the middle left. Since they are brighter than anything else in the frame, it feels a little imbalanced to have that big section of white only on the left side. I’m glad you are experimenting with higher contrast black and white. I look forward to seeing where you go with it in the future!

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Sarah, you’re right. when I increased whites from my original version I liked the ground better but the trees, especially on the mid-upper left, are too bright. Nice analysis. Thanks.