Fine Art Tree Photography, in Northern Ireland Hi again. If you've read my blog before or browsed my website, you might recognise these two black & white images. In 2013, I had the privledge of winning 2 Gold Awards for images of this iconic tree not far from my home in County Down, Northern Ireland.
(Psst! Don't forget, you need to click on the images to see them in more detail!)
This first shot was the first image that I entered and I was really pleased that it was given a Gold award as a landscape. That fit the feel and atmosphere that I wanted to convey. A lone tree stretching out it branches to the world, beckoning us in.
This second shot was taken around the same time as the first one, but for me, I wanted to do something far more intimate and personal with this shot. I wanted the viewer to see the tree. Its detail. The textures in the bark and the branches.. in short, its character. I have long identified with this tree, as I am sure many of you have. This tree has been beaten by the weather, up on the top of this hill and has taken the worst that nature can throw at it and still its here. Life can be like that and sometimes we feel like the tree.... or in the words of Elton John, "I'm Still Standing!" That's why the tree forms part of my logo. It reminds me every day, that I'm still standing. I really love creating images like this and fine art tree photography in general.
I've heard it said of Ansel Adams that he would return to an area again and again and at different times and seasons to see if there was something new he could see and learn. I like that. And, its something that I do. This tree grabs my attention every time I drive past it and I always find myself considering doing something new with it.
So, a few weeks ago, on my way to Belfast, I had a little time to spare and since I generally carry my camera and tripod with me most of the time, I decided to stop and see what I could see new in this scene. The field was full of what I think was barley and it was getting close to harvest time. I loved the idea of being able to capture movement amongst the barley as well as the colours and new textures. What difference was this going to make to my shooting my old friend, the Tree.
At this point I need to say that I as I entered the field I was very conscious of my need to be respectful of the farmer and his crop. I'd previously phoned the owners and asked for permission and was told that it was fine to enter at any time. They'd seemed quite shocked that I had called because they told me that most people just enter the field without any consideration or asking permission. With this in mind, I trod really carefully through the crop, making sure to not make any fresh tracks, following existing ones as I didn't want to damage anything.
Here I've added a colour cast as well as some neutral density using Nik software's Analog Efex and Colour Efex software. I have been using Nik for the past few years and love the consistency that it gives me. Also, with the new Analog Efex, it has really expanded my creative pallet.
One of the things I wanted to explore was the tree itself and see what it looked like from different perspectives and sides. Here I've used my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 II AT-X Pro . I'd have liked to been able to get more of the tracks on the right into the shot, but it wasn't possible without losing the feel of the shot.
Now, this is another one of the great creative options I was talking about earlier. Analog Efex gives you the possibility to simulate other, more traditional treatments such as those one could produce in a darkroom using not only film, but in this instance, wet plate. There is great freedom to control various elements such as water streaks etc. You either love this or hate it. Don't worry thought, I won't fall out with you over it. I personally like it. I'm very aware of the fact that photography and art in general is very subjective, so its ok to disagree. For example, not everyone is as into fine art tree photography as I am! :)
Personally I just love the feel of this.... As well as using Nik software I also have added 3 different textures working carefully to get just the right level of opacity for each of them. For those who don't speak Photoshop-ese, I basically blended some different textures over the top of the image to give it some extra character and punch. Now, my trip to the Tree wouldn't be complete without some iPhoneography.
I shot this on my iPhone 5 with the 645ProMkII app, one of my favourite camera apps. There's a new version out 645ProMkIII which is excellent (I'm still experimenting with it so haven't too much to say about it at the moment.) I added some texture to this shot using the DistressedFX app and then saved it and went back in again and added the birds using the same app. Finally I bordered the image in Pixlr-o-matic.
All-in-all, it was a productive trip. I always come away from this place feeling invigorated. Being at the foot of The Tree is always a good place to be.