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Tress and Leaves, Mohonk Preserve
Canon 1DS Mk III, f/4 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 200, 115mm

I’m always looking for that different perspective, a different arrangement of the same elements in nature I’ve seen countless times. A group of young trees in a pleasant pattern, with fresh blooming leaves at the beginning of spring. It sounds basic enough that I wouldn’t even go out looking for such an arrangement. But when I saw it, I knew it would make at the very least an interesting image.

Of course it depends on how I see, and that’s not the way you see. And it shouldn’t. I can never experience the way you see things just like you can never experience the way I do. That doesn’t mean one is more valid than the other either. It just depends on how refined and clear you can make your perspective, your vision. That’s the key, and it’s what I spend most of my time on workshops trying to drill into students minds.

We need a language, and that is certainly shared by all of us. The visual language is a part of our evolution, and deeply ingrained into our brains at a very early age. It’s essential to become familiar with every nuance of this visual language. Contrast, light and shadow, shapes, lines, depth and perspective. But after that it all depends on how you as an individual can use that language to tell the rest of us how you see and what your emotional reaction is to what you see. 

In “Trees and Leaves” I wanted to make a relationship between the strong vertical trunks on the left with the leaves on the right. Notice how the pattern of vertical lines becomes weaker as we move towards the right, letting the leaves occupy more visual weight. It’s like making space for each to contribute to the overall image without cluttering the other element.

I was pretty far away, so f/4 gave me just enough sharpness to make the leaves the center of focus, while letting the trunks become mere shapes without any real detail or texture. Again, simplifying the composition as best I could to emphasize what I was reacting to…the beautiful green colors of spring.

Hope that sheds some light on my thought process and helps you develop yours! Stay tuned for another Lightroom workflow video coming later this week.

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