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Author Topic: Trees at the Grand Canyon  (Read 3463 times)
shutterpup
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« on: June 12, 2009, 07:02:28 PM »
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These trees were on a ledge overlooking the Grand Canyon. How can it be improved?
[attachment=14497:Lorraine...hoto_149.jpg]


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dalethorn
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2009, 08:20:28 PM »
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This is one of those tough ones where I'd like to lessen contrast on the foreground (trees) but increase contrast on the background (canyon walls).
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2009, 12:12:52 AM »
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The first thing that came to me was to move your camera to the right so you're not cutting off part of a tree and part of a root.  You've got empty space on the left so you could have moved some, anyway.  Second, if it was me I probably would have crouched down, creating a lower horizon and marking the trees more against the sky.  However, none of that relates to this image specifically...

Mike.
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jani
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2009, 03:38:33 AM »
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In addition to what Mike says, I would also try to avoid that time of day for photographs like these. While it makes for a good holiday snapshot, daylight is really difficult to use in a more artistic manner.

Another way of handling trees in the foreground and canyon in the background, is to step further back and use more of the canyon, or to step forward and use the gnarly tree branches as a kind of frame. The latter may be difficult to get right, far from all trees make good foreground frames in that way, and you have to consider very carefully how you want that frame to appear (silhouette, partial silhouette with shadow detail and structures that play well with the structure in the framed subject, etc.).

And, as I always seem to be eager to point out, it appears that the horizon isn't straight; I doubt that the mesa (or whatever it is) in the background isn't near level, and that's distracting.

But you have found a classic subject, which can be very appealing.
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Jan
shutterpup
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2009, 10:05:16 AM »
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Quote from: wolfnowl
The first thing that came to me was to move your camera to the right so you're not cutting off part of a tree and part of a root.  You've got empty space on the left so you could have moved some, anyway.  Second, if it was me I probably would have crouched down, creating a lower horizon and marking the trees more against the sky.  However, none of that relates to this image specifically...

Mike.


Mike,
Looking at the photo again, I see what you're saying about cutting off some root and part of the other tree. I must admit that at the time I took this shot, I had no sense of good composition; I just saw something that caught my attention(I never stopped to ask myself what that was)and snapped. Not an excuse; just describes where I was last year in my shooting/thought processes. I would not have thought of putting more sky in, since it was to me just a clear, non-descript sky. I was shooting with a polarizer on my lens in an attempt to keep the sky from blowing out altogether as it had in many of my other shots at the Grand Canyon. Probably my biggest problem with the whole trip was that it was early afternoon and the lighting was difficult. I will be going back that way, and try again.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2009, 10:11:31 AM »
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Quote from: jani
In addition to what Mike says, I would also try to avoid that time of day for photographs like these. While it makes for a good holiday snapshot, daylight is really difficult to use in a more artistic manner.

Another way of handling trees in the foreground and canyon in the background, is to step further back and use more of the canyon, or to step forward and use the gnarly tree branches as a kind of frame. The latter may be difficult to get right, far from all trees make good foreground frames in that way, and you have to consider very carefully how you want that frame to appear (silhouette, partial silhouette with shadow detail and structures that play well with the structure in the framed subject, etc.).

And, as I always seem to be eager to point out, it appears that the horizon isn't straight; I doubt that the mesa (or whatever it is) in the background isn't near level, and that's distracting.

But you have found a classic subject, which can be very appealing.

Jan,
I looked again at the horizon of the mesa. That is funky-looking, the way the horizon doesn't carry across the entire shot. The canyon took a turn at that point on the left side of the photo. Had I taken it from a different angle, it may not have shown a distracting horizon.
I have another shot that uses the tree branches as a kind of frame. I'll look at that one again and see if I want to post it here. I fear it won't come up to my more current, more discerning standards that I'm developing through comments like yours here.
Thank you for your comments.
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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2009, 01:12:50 PM »
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To me, the shot needs more "atmosphere".  It's clear that the subject is the trees, but there is nothing to distinguish these trees from any other trees you would come across.  They take up most of the frame, but they are cut off.  The rock formations and the Grand Canyon scream out to be captured, but they are obscured into almost not being there.  

As you said, this was a snapshot.  It really needs to be composed  in a different way to become more than just a snap.  While this isn't the optimal time of day to shoot, sometimes we don't have the option to change that.  That is overcome with outstanding composition.  Make the trees smaller in the frame, and position the camera such that you capture more of the scene that is presented to you.  Places like this offer great potential.  You must make a conscious effort to turn that potential into an extraordinary photograph.
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oldcsar
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2009, 02:36:45 PM »
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I agree with the feedback made so far, but one related issue has been danced around in regards to composition, focus, etc... more of the tree branches on the right could be shown, and more grand canyon in the background could also be shown if the frame were in horizontal (landscape) position instead of vertical. The tree is interesting and can contribute much to the scene when used as a sort of frame (as already discussed by others), but it should not be so centered or be an impediment to letting the background canyon contribute to the scene. In my opinion, it should be a balancing act between the focal objects you want in the scene, depending on the degree of importance you want to place on them. Put bluntly, I believe that shooting a horizontal frame and not a vertical frame would allow you to better address the suggestions made so far.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2009, 02:42:05 PM »
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Quote from: oldcsar
I agree with the feedback made so far, but one related issue has been danced around in regards to composition, focus, etc... more of the tree branches on the right could be shown, and more grand canyon in the background could also be shown if the frame were in horizontal (landscape) position instead of vertical. The tree is interesting and can contribute much to the scene when used as a sort of frame (as already discussed by others), but it should not be so centered or be an impediment to letting the background canyon contribute to the scene. In my opinion, it should be a balancing act between the focal objects you want in the scene, depending on the degree of importance you want to place on them. Put bluntly, I believe that shooting a horizontal frame and not a vertical frame would allow you to better address the suggestions made so far.

Oldcsar,
I must be reading too much and not the right stuff. It was my understanding that a vertical shot is better than a horizontal one most of the time. No? Or maybe it needs to be evaluated each time I get ready to shoot. So much to learn, so many old thoughts to set aside, many counterproductive habits to break! I love a challenge!
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RSL
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2009, 03:48:03 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Oldcsar,
I must be reading too much and not the right stuff. It was my understanding that a vertical shot is better than a horizontal one most of the time. No? Or maybe it needs to be evaluated each time I get ready to shoot. So much to learn, so many old thoughts to set aside, many counterproductive habits to break! I love a challenge!

Pup, Photojournalism suggests that verticals are better than horizontals because they fit on a magazine page better, but the format you should shoot depends on what you're after.

You can chop off a person's body and make a head shot or upper body and head shot as a portrait, but trees don't have heads (at least not normally), so, in most cases you need to get the whole tree. In the tree shot you posted after this one, where you were going for the gnarled branches, there's a similar problem. The branches are nicely gnarly, but I think that if you're going strictly for the gnaryness you need to sit down, shoot up, zoom in more, and eliminate the Grand Canyon background that takes your attention away from the gnarlyness. On the other hand I'm not a big fan of pictures of gnarlyness, so I'm probably not the right person to comment.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2009, 04:41:56 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Pup, Photojournalism suggests that verticals are better than horizontals because they fit on a magazine page better, but the format you should shoot depends on what you're after.

You can chop off a person's body and make a head shot or upper body and head shot as a portrait, but trees don't have heads (at least not normally), so, in most cases you need to get the whole tree. In the tree shot you posted after this one, where you were going for the gnarled branches, there's a similar problem. The branches are nicely gnarly, but I think that if you're going strictly for the gnaryness you need to sit down, shoot up, zoom in more, and eliminate the Grand Canyon background that takes your attention away from the gnarlyness. On the other hand I'm not a big fan of pictures of gnarlyness, so I'm probably not the right person to comment.

Arrgghh. Russ, I see what you're saying about the format and I do recall that the article was dealing with magazine photos.
I can also agree that shooting up would have gotten rid of the background problem, but then, where would we be? Without that darned sense of place! It would just become another gnarly tree, not one surviving in the desert.
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RSL
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2009, 04:46:14 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Arrgghh. Russ, I see what you're saying about the format and I do recall that the article was dealing with magazine photos.
I can also agree that shooting up would have gotten rid of the background problem, but then, where would we be? Without that darned sense of place! It would just become another gnarly tree, not one surviving in the desert.

Pup, Right you are. But you have to remember that I'm not the one to be commenting on gnarly trees.

You're doing great. Keep shooting. The folks on this forum will keep you in line.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2009, 05:13:39 PM »
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In printing terminology, if not elsewhere, portrait mode is considered to be vertical, and landscape mode is considered to be horizontal.

It seems a simple deduction that most landscape photos would be in landscape mode, and this being a landscape forum, ummmm....
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RSL
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2009, 08:09:36 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Arrgghh. Russ, I see what you're saying about the format and I do recall that the article was dealing with magazine photos.
I can also agree that shooting up would have gotten rid of the background problem, but then, where would we be? Without that darned sense of place! It would just become another gnarly tree, not one surviving in the desert.

Pup, Let's talk about gnarled trees. How you set up a shot like that depends on whether you're after the tree or the gnarles. If you're shooting the tree you want the whole tree, and enough background to show where the tree lives, but if you're shooting gnarles what you want is the gnarles without any extraneous surroundings to take attention away from the gnarles. At least that's usually the case. But as is true of most art the usual case doesn't always tell you what's right.

[attachment=14522:Jun_13_2009_01.jpg]

Here's a shot of a gnarled stump I shot this morning on a walk through Garden of the Gods. It's not great, but it illustrates two things: (1) I had heavy clouds behind the stump. If the clouds hadn't been there, Pikes Peak would be back there as a distraction and your eye would have jumped to the peak. (2) I used the widest aperture on the lens to soften the foreground and the background so the focus is on the gnarles.

I don't know whether or not this is a help, but at least it's something to think about.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2009, 09:07:24 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Pup, Let's talk about gnarled trees. How you set up a shot like that depends on whether you're after the tree or the gnarles. If you're shooting the tree you want the whole tree, and enough background to show where the tree lives, but if you're shooting gnarles what you want is the gnarles without any extraneous surroundings to take attention away from the gnarles. At least that's usually the case. But as is true of most art the usual case doesn't always tell you what's right.

[attachment=14522:Jun_13_2009_01.jpg]

Here's a shot of a gnarled stump I shot this morning on a walk through Garden of the Gods. It's not great, but it illustrates two things: (1) I had heavy clouds behind the stump. If the clouds hadn't been there, Pikes Peak would be back there as a distraction and your eye would have jumped to the peak. (2) I used the widest aperture on the lens to soften the foreground and the background so the focus is on the gnarles.

I don't know whether or not this is a help, but at least it's something to think about.

Russ,
I think there's some confusion here, unintentionally brought on by me. I have posted two separate photos of trees in the Grand Canyon. The one on this thread is one of the entire tree and you need to know where it lives. I agree with those who commented about the funky horizon line of this shot. And I could have included more of the dead tree on the right side of the photo. I realize it needs work, not PS, but as a representation of what we've been talking about, I don't think it's entirely without redemption.

My second photo showing just the gnarly limbs with the Grand Canyon blurred in the distance is similar to your gnarly shot that you just posted here. I may not have used the same elegance you did, but again I feel my shot is not without redeeming qualities.

The conversation involves 2 separate photos on two separate threads. Sorry for the confusion I've caused.
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oldcsar
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2009, 03:44:02 PM »
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Never heard of this vertical shot superiority rule until now. It is really on true when it comes to scenes which are maximized by a vertical presentation, but consider all the other instances where this rule is false. With respect to this photo only (no confusion for me), I do not think that a vertical shot is the best way, but that a horizontal presentation would make it more effective overall. As you suggested previously shutterpup, without the grand canyon in the background there is no sense of place... with a horizontal shot, you could capture more of the tree as well as better capture that sense of place. What I like about unique trees in the foreground, such as in this shot, is that it helps give an otherwise cliche shot (that of the grand canyon only with nothing in the foreground) a certain specificity of place, and allows for a little more creativity. So yes, this photo has redeeming qualities with respect to the tree in the foreground, but the vertical presentation does not work as well in this case.
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RSL
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2009, 08:41:15 PM »
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Quote from: oldcsar
Never heard of this vertical shot superiority rule until now. It is really on true when it comes to scenes which are maximized by a vertical presentation, but consider all the other instances where this rule is false. With respect to this photo only (no confusion for me), I do not think that a vertical shot is the best way, but that a horizontal presentation would make it more effective overall. As you suggested previously shutterpup, without the grand canyon in the background there is no sense of place... with a horizontal shot, you could capture more of the tree as well as better capture that sense of place. What I like about unique trees in the foreground, such as in this shot, is that it helps give an otherwise cliche shot (that of the grand canyon only with nothing in the foreground) a certain specificity of place, and allows for a little more creativity. So yes, this photo has redeeming qualities with respect to the tree in the foreground, but the vertical presentation does not work as well in this case.

Old, There's no such thing as a vertical shot superiority rule. What Pup and I were talking about is an idea that comes from photojournalism that verticals often are superior for magazine publication because they fit on a magazine page more easily than does a horizontal. No one ever suggested that you had to cram what normally would be a horizontal into a vertical format. The place where verticals really pay off is in quarter page ads in magazines such as "B&W" and "Color." You can make a good presentation of a vertical in a $220 quarter page ad. With a horizontal you almost have to go to a $440 half page.

Pup, No, confusion didn't enter in. Both shots sort of merged in the discussion. Yes, your shot certainly has redeeming qualities. All this is why I hate to get involved in gnarly tree discussions.
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shutterpup
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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2009, 09:29:48 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Old, There's no such thing as a vertical shot superiority rule. What Pup and I were talking about is an idea that comes from photojournalism that verticals often are superior for magazine publication because they fit on a magazine page more easily than does a horizontal. No one ever suggested that you had to cram what normally would be a horizontal into a vertical format. The place where verticals really pay off is in quarter page ads in magazines such as "B&W" and "Color." You can make a good presentation of a vertical in a $220 quarter page ad. With a horizontal you almost have to go to a $440 half page.

Pup, No, confusion didn't enter in. Both shots sort of merged in the discussion. Yes, your shot certainly has redeeming qualities. All this is why I hate to get involved in gnarly tree discussions.

Russ,
I guess the confusion of the two different shots of trees in the Grand Canyon was more confusion on my part. Shall we agree to stop the gnarly tree discussions?
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RSL
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« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2009, 04:53:30 PM »
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Quote from: shutterpup
Russ,
I guess the confusion of the two different shots of trees in the Grand Canyon was more confusion on my part. Shall we agree to stop the gnarly tree discussions?

Any time. As I pointed out earlier, I'm not really a gnarly tree type.
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