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Saturday, 22 September 2012 23:17

An Intimacy of Birches

The wonderful white birch path through Great Meadow in Acadia National Park is always full of surprises. It's so easy to get caught up in the lines of receding forest along either side of the path that you can forget to notice the small clusters of individual trees that so spectacularly offer themselves as you walk along. The lushness of the grass was so omnipresent that it seemed to enfold everything around, and when I noticed this grouping of trunks among the green stems I just stopped in my tracks and stared. The one grass stem with the pair of curving blades in front stood in such contrast to the others that I knew it had to figure prominently in the composition. I discovered that if I moved too far to the left in an attempt to create separation in the trunks, the position of the curved blades with respect to the trunks behind them became such that the relationship between them became too tenuous. So I became very fussy and moved just to the point of creating enough separation that it could be seen and no more. The relationships of the trunks to each other and of the grass to the trees was what I actually saw. I wanted enough depth of field for all of the trunks and the grass to be sharply focused, but I did not care about the grass in the background, so I focused on the large trunk, second from the left in the frame, and at a focal length of 82mm used f/11 as an aperture. At ISO 100 a shutter speed of 1.25 seconds gave me a slightly lighter than medium exposure, which worked better due to the lightness of the birch trunks.    

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  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Wednesday, 26 September 2012 19:12 posted by Nancy Tripp

    You are right, one could easily walk by or walk on this spot. I am glad you spotted it and captured it to share. I really like the blades in front gracefully inviting us to explore the trees then the grass separates showing the way. Beautifully done. Thanks Don McGowan.

  • Comment Link Ray Foote Sunday, 23 September 2012 21:31 posted by Ray Foote

    Don, again, a pleasant part of my Sunday. Thanks for a beautiful image. I like the mystery created by the dynamic shapes of the trunks as they leave the frame. One wonders where they go from there.

    Nice rich colors in the grass. THanks.


  • Comment Link Karen Sunday, 23 September 2012 21:27 posted by Karen

    We are all grateful for your fussiness.

  • Comment Link Pat Crutchfield Sunday, 23 September 2012 20:22 posted by Pat Crutchfield

    Ah, yes ... I remember it well. A wonderful image. I'm looking forward to seeing it again in its Autumn splendor.

  • Comment Link Don McGowan Sunday, 23 September 2012 10:34 posted by Don McGowan

    Hi Bruce and Tammy. Thanks for your comments. Isn't it amazing how such pleasing imagery can be found in such simple scenes and ideas. We spend so much time chasing icons that we overlook the beauty at our feet. Bruce, I can't say whether I saw the gestalt first, or the blades of grass. It was close between them; but whichever it was, seeing the other came almost immediately afterward and the image was instantly there.

  • Comment Link Dorsey Davis Sunday, 23 September 2012 10:31 posted by Dorsey Davis

    Beautiful, Don. Look closely and I bet you will find some similar shots in the UP this coming week. I love the white birches and the way they contrast with every color in their environment. Their tendency to grow in clumps and at varying angles make them a photographer's dream when trying to capture an interesting composition. The way the light just touches the top of the one clump of grass with the two blades rising from it leaving some dark areas to provide shape and depth cannot be overlooked in the success of this image. I am too much of a perfectionist when it comes to visible detail in the lightest areas of an image so I probably would do at least a local adjustment to the main trunk to see if I could get some detail to come out. That is my perception, not a critique. The image is outstanding just the way it is.

  • Comment Link Tammy Henry Sunday, 23 September 2012 10:15 posted by Tammy Henry

    Simply beautiful.

  • Comment Link bruce hogle Sunday, 23 September 2012 09:45 posted by bruce hogle

    I agree Don, the blades of grass in the foreground "make" this image. It's the 1st thing I saw when I looked before I read your commentary. I too like your composition overall for it's balance and intimacy.

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