Painter's Palette, Tahoe Aspens
As usual, Autumn started out slowly. A leaf here, a small tree there. This aspen grove, near my home in South Lake Tahoe, however, didn't get the memo. The entire grove changed at once, and rapidly. After scouting the area the night before, I returned before the sun rose above the mountains to compose my first Fall color image of the 2017 season.
The morning was extremely cold (you can see my breath in the video I attached below), and fortunately, still. The forest was visually chaotic, which I embraced, simplifying the composition with a panoramic format that enabled me to eliminate both sky and foreground. I focussed on the layers of color surrounding the two white aspen trunks in the middle, which appear to embrace each other. That little bit of structure adds depth and context to a very impressionistic scene.
I chose to expose my sheet of film before the sun directly hit the back of the trees, as this would have added uneven light, and distracted from the subtle depth created by the layers of pastel tones. I saw a calm in this forest. A simple beauty. The imperfection of this grove spoke to me. This grouping of aspens has character. This panorama is what I saw as I stood quietly and absorbed what I was fortunate enough to experience with all of my senses that cold Fall morning. This is "The Fine Art of Nature".
Wait for the right light in order to capture an image that conveys the mood you envision in your scene. In this case I waited until the light was subdued and even. While this won't work for many scenes, subdued light eliminated harsh contrast within a forest. These conditions made two things possible. First, I was able to easily capture the entire contrast range, from highlight to shadow, in one exposure. Second, it provided a calm mood to a scene with somewhat chaotic structure. The soft light enabled the subtle contrast of the pastel colors to become the focus. The tones of this scene speak to us, they don't scream desperately for our attention. A backlit scene could have worked, but it didn't match what I had felt and envisioned for this image. We have to make a choice as to when, in which conditions, we choose to capture an image in order to create a piece of art that reaches beyond a mere snapshot photo.
Camera: Canham 5x7 metal Field with 6x17cm panoramic film back
Lens: Rodenstock 210mm
Film: Fuji RDPIII Provia 100F transparency film (6x17cm panorama capture)
Light Meter: Sekonic L558R (digital spot meter)
Tripod: Gitzo 1325 Carbon Fiber
Tripod Head: Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head
Exposure: 2 seconds