Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 29, 2009

Barking up the Right Tree

Filed under: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, composition, favorite places, light, Non Birds, style — richditch @ 7:08 pm
Tree Bark

Tree Bark

Temperatures in central AZ have now reached the point where I seldom go out to shoot: it was 108 degrees today in Phoenix, with an overnight “low” of 87 degrees, so even if I’m out at dawn it is already getting uncomfortable. So, I’ll probably be making fewer posts here, and when I do they will more often be non birds or other images from my unprocessed archives that I’ve ignored until times such as this.

Here’s an example of the sort of subject that’s always interested me, but that I don’t shoot as often any more as I concentrate on birds. This is the Bark of a Palm Tree that I’ve walked past at least 100 times as I look for birds at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, AZ. The tree sits back a bit from the man path, and it is always shaded and easy to overlook in the gloomy light.

I finally stopped for a closer look, drawn in by the pattern of the “sine waves” that intersect. I paused long enough to take a couple frames with the mounted bird rig – my multi-purpose 300/2.8 and 2x converter with Nikon D200 body. If I’d been carrying my 105/2.8 macro lens on this walkabout I likely would have used it, getting a lot closer to the tree and enjoying the brighter viewfinder image of the f/2.8 aperture and the higher resolution of that lens.

But the 300 and 2x delivered for me here, and the long focal length allowed me to work from farther away and at a less steep angle. The low light forced me to ISO 400. 1/40th second, and f/7.1 for the matrix metered exposure. I could have used more depth-of-field to deal with the curvature of the trunk, but didn’t want to risk a longer shutter speed or higher ISO. I cropped off the left edge here where the image was beginning to sharpness from the shallow DOF.

The composition here is simple, based primarily on the pattern of the curved lines. Like all pattern shots I think it is stronger because there are enough small variations to add interest that invites the viewer to linger and explore more of the image. I also like the simple brown tones in the image.

I think this would make a nice image in a series of similar shots – say dried mud that has cracked, or the trunk of an elephant. Unfortunately,  I have neither of those images in my files.


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