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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Twin Jewels II

I have previously written about what I call The Twin Jewels Project and mentioned that I would intermittently be posting images that I think might ‘make the cut’ for project inclusion.

Three Trees
Copyright Howard Grill

This image is entitled “Three Trees”. Right next to one of the park’s parking areas was a tract of forest with the ground covered with fall leaves. I knew I wanted to capture an image of the trees and ground but was left with what, for me, always seems to be a problem with photographing forests and trees. That is, how to simplify the composition; to ‘clean it up’ so that what is included in the frame produces a harmonious graphic composition and doesn’t just look like ‘a bunch of trees’. In my mind, this is a classic situation that the saying “painters start with nothing and keep adding until they get something beautiful and photographers start with everything and keep removing until they get something beautiful” pertains to. Well, I might not have gotten that quote exactly right, but you know what I mean.

So I stood along the roadside trying to visually isolate a grouping of trees that looked like it could ‘stand on its own’, along with enough of the ground to show the leaves. I was also hoping to find a grouping that would work together graphically but not be right next to each other, in order to introduce a sense of depth into the image.

I was ultimately drawn to this particular grouping. I tend to find, when working on composition, that once a ‘problem is solved’ things are still never as settled as one would hope. There is always the next level of ‘discovery’ within the composition to work on. In this case, I found the grouping I wanted, but then started wondering how the three main trees should be oriented with respect to each other. It was obvious that their relationship to each other could be changed by merely moving the camera a few inches to the left or right. I ultimately decided that the best approach was my initial reaction, which was to have the three trees oriented in space so that they didn’t touch and had equal spacing around them.

Sometimes, after the fact, relationships are found in a composition that hadn’t been planned on and which turn out to be a surprise. In this instance, I had liked the appearance of the greenery growing by the closest tree. What I hadn’t realized is that there was a bit of an ‘echo’ of this throughout the picture, with the most distant tree also having an associated green plant of its own. The tree on the left does not have a plant beside it, but the green discoloration of the tree trunk and the small patch of green grass to its right side seems to make up for this. I also like the way the yellow canopy of leaves echoes the darker leaves on the ground.

Finally, and this is not at all apparent on a small web image, I added ‘extra’ sharpening to the most forward tree during post-processing, which allows it to ‘pop’ from the image even more and enhance the three dimensional effect.

Based on my rather verbose description, it is probably obvious that I think this image ‘works’, but I am always interested in the impressions of others. I do find interesting the amount of thought that can go into making a picture of something as simple as a grouping of trees.