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.

Backlit Tree; Hocking Hills

Photographing Cedar Falls was one of the highlights of my trip to Hocking Hills this last spring. The falls is down in a valley of sorts, so there was plenty of time to photograph before the sun rose high enough to 'end the party' by causing bright highlights on the water.  While on the hike back to the car, I was walking along the base of a cliff and happened to notice that the sun had risen just over the top of the cliff and was nicely backlighting a group of trees, leaving the rock wall in the shade.  The dark rock provided a nice contrasting background for the tree and it looked like a nice 'set up' for a photo.

To process this image I first made some contrast and brightness adjustments in Lightroom and then converted it to black and white.

Why black and white? In my mind the image was about the contrast and backlight.  While the flourescent green of the leaves was interesting, the cliffs themselves had an orange hue and, even though far darker than the green, I thought it detracted from the contrast and lighting which was what had really caught my attention.

I liked a quick initial conversion, and, once I saw the direction the photo could take in black and white, I spent some time in Silver Efex Pro getting it to look just the way I wanted. In images like this, care has to be taken to make the backlit leaves bright but, at the same time, avoid having them 'blow out' to pure white.


Backlit Tree, Hocking Hills    © Howard Grill