How I made this image

Hola Amigos,

It’s a beautiful day here in Spain. The sun is warm, outside my window I can hear the sea rolling gently. My kids have had a fiesta-filled weekend with their new little community of friends. I am feeling inspired by some cool projects I’m working on with a new colleague.

One thing that has also been inspiring is writing about the technical and creative stories behind my photos. I am loving it!

I hope you are all learning more about how I approach photography, and picking up ideas along the way. 

I love nature.  I forgot how much I loved it until I stayed in the hills of Tuscany for seven weeks.  Living in London for 18 years, and Los Angeles before that, I really lost touch with the feeling you get of being surrounded by constant beauty – it brings me an elevated feeling of bliss.

I am not a “nature” photographer, but I am an artist. Going into the woods and trails around Castello Ristonchi left me feeling that I was out of my element even though my passion for the natural world was  reawakened.  

As a photographer I didn’t know what to shoot. It was hard to simplify and isolate subjects in the complexity and deepness of nature. 

But as I walked I realised that what I’d come to photograph would be there waiting for me. I didn’t need to be a “nature” photographer. I could just be myself – an artist.  

Once that realisation came to me I relaxed into the moment and started to really enjoy myself.

The image above is about that enjoyment and relaxed mood.  

I came to the top of a hill and spotted this gloriously isolated tree. (I was hunting for something apart from all the complexity of nature).  I stared at it for a while, then started to look around for elements I could add to the image I was constructing in my head.

I wanted depth. I wanted to capture the feeling of being on a hilltop. I wanted just a narrow so I was using my 50mm lens. I was not in a landscape frame of mind.  

Doing landscapes is part of nature photography and I was out as an artist with vision, trying to be so.  

I didn’t want to make an image that another skilled photographer could see and replicate easily. Much landscape photography is just that. Not point and click, but obvious enough that anyone looking could see it right away and with a bit of skill capture it. Beauty is beauty after all. It’s not hard to miss.

I always seek to capture something a little different in my photos.

The top of the hill was fairly clear of clutter (i.e potential elements!) and it was refreshing coming out of the deep woods into a brightly lit meadow. I became pumped up; using all my senses. My eyes were searching for elements to build relationships with, my skin feeling the brisk air, my ears listening to the quiet, nose catching the smell of a coming storm. 

Life was beautiful and the translation into my photos of those feelings was peaking.

I saw some small low branches with dried leaves of rich earth tones – the colours were captivating.  I walked around them still thinking of my isolated tree. The light was truly inspiring. 

I started shooting and thinking of the composition choices I was making.  I was very close to the low branches and depth of field became an obstacle.  

For some reason I was shooting very wide – f/2.0.  I remember feeling that with the 50mm and a wide aperture I could decrease most complexity, making sharp lines into blurry gradations of tone.

I shot varying compositions but didn’t change my position much since it felt so right.  It was mostly just orientation of the camera and change in focus – sometimes focused on the tree, sometimes on the branches.

I left with the feeling I got something I liked, but was not sure which image it would be. It was only a few days later after much editing and toing and froing that I decided on the image above. It had the right balance of tree and leaves and I liked the focus point.  

I didn’t get encouraging feedback from Di.  She didn’t like it at all…at first.  I asked her yesterday if I should write a post about this image and she says “YES, I love that image!”  She didn’t love it for a long time. 

It makes me wonder about personal taste, and how things develop over time.   

Me, l like it.  But that is me, as the one who stood there on that glorious day experiencing it firsthand.  We can be very partial to certain images because of emotional attachments to them. 

Tread carefully and always ask others what they think. 

I’d love to know what you think of this! Let me know on my blog. What do you think of the composition?

Have a fantastic day everyone. 

As always, if there is something I can help you with photo-wise let me know. Just hit reply. I love hearing from you.