Tree of Souls


Tree of Souls

from 315.00

The inside of this giant Redwood tree stump was scarred by a forest fire which burned even the inside of the tree. I climbed inside through a small cave-like opening in the side of the trunk, and stood inside. The stump is probably 15 feet tall, and over 10 feet across, with the hollow inside big enough for me to easily spread out both arms inside without touching the walls! The green you see through the opening are different trees that have grown in overhead since the fire. 

To make this image, I combined 3 exposures to capture all of the intense light and shadow, and then manually blended them by hand in post. In development, I decided to have some fun with it and see what I could bring out. The scene is actually almost "ugly" to the naked eye because it is unable to process all that's there. Bringing the image to its full potential was an interesting artistic journey that required using a wide variety of techniques, and I actually experimented with creating some new ones in the process of making this image. For example, I employed a somewhat subtle combination of the Orton glow with a zoom-blur to guide the eye upwards towards the light. I think it works as a sort of semi-abstract art piece, in some ways resembling a slot canyon or cave, yet made entirely of wood. It is also a story of old growth and new life, and the transition from one generation to the next.

For the trees overhead, what I did was actually recover all of the highlight details (none are blown in my merged file), and then selectively choose which areas to blow out. I found that creating a green glow above made for a stronger image overall than creating one which had all of the leaf details intact. I did the same for the lens flare, deliberately including a lens flare in the final image for artistic effect. The greens you see in the foreground are lush mosses growing on the inside of the tree trunk. The bluish hues are charred sections inside the trunk which are shiny and reflect the blue sky overhead, along with the relatively cool ambient light in the cavernous interior. Finally, the red wood is obviously the pulpy interior wood of the appropriately named Redwood.

Believe it or not, this image is from a 24mm lens equivalent (12mm on M4/3.) Had I used a fisheye or ultra-wide angle, I could have captured even more of the tree! However, I did want the green at the top to not disappear into the background.

This is another image from our 24-day road trip this summer. On day 2, we explored the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, and it was my first time actually hiking in the Redwoods. The experience was awe-inspiring every step of the way. We are truly minute as we walk through these forests of behemoths.

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