Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall colors in New Jersey - Shooting images of just one tree (Working the subject)

Last Saturday, myself and Moose Peterson were teaching a workshop (for Unique Photo) in Paterson, New Jersey. The good people at Unique Photo picked the location for us, so we had no idea what to expect when we arrived. We had heard that the town was not the greatest or safest place, but that they had a waterfall right in the middle of town. So...we headed out from our hotels in NYC and headed for the location. As we arrived, the first thing we saw was this amazing tree full of fall colors. As Moose said, this tree just called out "shoot photos of me" and so we did.

As Moose taught the students, I went around and shot images of this tree and thought that it would make an interesting blog entry and lesson. The thought was...How can you use just one tree and make many interesting images?

I took this photo to show the entire tree. This is the "standard shot" that most people would take. It is nice, but we can do more with this.


I replaced my wide lens with my 70-200 zoom lens and keyed in on one section of the tree that interested me. A totally different look from the wide shot.


I saw this one branch partially bathed in sunlight and took this photo, using the brick wall from the nearby building as a background. (Photographer's note: I shot this image at f2.8 to not only add depth of field to the leaves, but also to make sure that there was plenty of separation from the brick wall. I also shot most of the images in this blog post at 1/2 stop down to accentuate the colors and shadows.)


For this image, I went under the tree and positioned myself so that the sun was peeking through the leaves. I then set my camera to a low aperture (f16) to create the star burst effect and shot this, filling the frame with the canopy of the tree. (Photographer's note: Any time that you are shooting into the sun or lights, you can get the star burst effect by using an aperture small than f11. I frequently will use this technique in my night photos to get this same effect from street lights.)


Some more detail shots of the tree branches and colorful leaves.




A good photographer is always aware of their surroundings. I always teach people to not only look in front of them, but all around, up and down. In this case, I looked down by one of the tree roots and saw this nice cluster of leaves resting against the root.


When looking around the area, I also came across these steps. I loved the way that the leaves were evening scattered across the concrete. You will notice that there is a slightly red tint to the concrete. This was caused by the sunlight hitting the red brick walls just off to the right of the image.


I walked down towards the waterfall, turned back and saw the same tree in the background of this statue. I did shoot some tight shots of the statue and tree, but liked this image, which uses the staircase as an added element to the photo.


And, since we were at the waterfall, I thought that I would include a couple of images of this, so that you could see where we were.


This last shot was taken from the sidewalk, as we made our way towards the bridge over the waterfall. I stopped the group and had everyone shoot from this location since it has the classic foreground (trees), middle ground (building and bridge) and background (falls) elements to make a nice shot.

I will do another blog soon, showing the photos that we took of the models during the workshop.

3 comments:

canvas prints said...

i so love your photos. the autom leaves is my favourite.

photographingalaska said...

Your shots are amazing. I can only hope to become as good a photographer as yourself. I like your work because so far from what i can see its real. You don't over-shop your photos so much that they look like they are fake or some sort of vector. Those sort of photos are ok for maybe the net but not for a wall in a home. However,I do see that your photos are much more colorful than my own even with me adding some saturation at say no more than + ten. I am wondering if it is My camera because I have noticed that My friend who uses a cannon has much better color. I use an Olympus E 410. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff Cable said...

For these images, I typically did not boost the saturation much or at all. You will see better colors and contrast in the newer cameras. I do increase the contrast at times. I hope that helps.