I found all kinds of interesting possibilities while meandering through the Ceres Nature Preserve last week. I spotted this tree early in my visit. I used very simple equipment, a single hand held camera body and two different lenses — 50mm and 28mm, to make the following images.
This weathered old tree is a fascinating subject, especially in black and white. By using a fast 50mm lens and shooting almost wide open, I was able to isolate the tree from the surroundings, particularly the background. Notice the very narrow plane of focus and how the foreground is also distorted. Look carefully and you can also see where the hill drops off abruptly just behind the tree.
This shot was taken with the same lens in almost the same position but with the lens stopped down. Now the background is clearly visible and clutters the shot — not very effective and the drop off isn’t as obvious.
Here, I switched to a wide view with my 28mm that puts our tree into context. All the trees are in focus and our special tree is lost in the clutter. I’d like to repeat this shot with my 24mm lens shooting even closer to the tree. Maybe next time.
Here, I moved a bit to change the composition. This is better because the tree is dominant again. I stopped down to bring all parts of the tree into focus but the background is too sharp and detracts from the image. I may try this shot again and next time I’ll open the lens enough to blur out the background.
I was working very carefully because this tree is right on the edge of a very steep hill, almost a cliff. I love taking pictures but not enough to risk falling and hurting myself.
I learned a lot from these few images. I love the perspective of the 50mm lens for 35mm photography. With a fast lens like this one, you can do some amazing things simply by controlling the distance to your subject and choosing the right lens aperture.
The series was an experiment. I wanted to play with depth of field. I also wanted to see how well my 50 would render the marvelous tones, forms and textures of this neat old tree in black and white.
I think the first image tells the best story, but the last image is a better composition that’s flawed because the background is too strong. I had fun and learned a lot from this exercise. Think of these as “rough drafts” that help flesh out ideas rather than finished works.
Be sure to visit Lisa’s Chaos for more Macro Monday photos. Thank you Lisa. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to share.