Winter Wisps (and a Bird at Liftoff)

From “The Journal of Henry David Thoreau” in The Complete Works of Henry David Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau:

“[Dec. 26, 1855] After snow, rain, and hail yesterday and last night, we have this morning quite a glaze, there being at last an inch or two of crusted snow on the ground, the most we have had. The sun comes out at 9 A. M. and lights up the ice-incrusted trees, but it is pretty warm and the ice rapidly melts. I go to Walden via the almshouse and up the railroad….

“Trees seen in the west against the dark cloud, the sun shining on them, are perfectly white as frostwork, and their outlines very perfectly and distinctly revealed, great wisps that they are and ghosts of trees, with recurved twigs….”

From The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“[The] Will-of-the-wisp vanishes if you go too near, vanishes if you go too far, and only blazes at one angle.”


Continuing with some additional studies of winter shapes (see also Winter Shapes: Hydrangeas and Japanese Maple Leaves and Winter Shapes: Hydrangeas and Japanese Maple Leaves in Black and White), here is a random collection of tiny leaves, stems, and vines — followed by a set of five images of goldenrod rendered on black, followed at the end by lucky shots of resting bird that spread its wings and took off just as I pressed the camera’s shutter.

Thanks for taking a look!







Winter Shapes: Hydrangeas and Japanese Maple Leaves in Black and White

From “Structure” and “Tonal Nuance” in Black & White Photography by Michael Freeman:

“Image possibilities that contain a strong potential for structure notably include elements of line and shape, almost always heightened by some form of contrast….

“Black and white enhances these possibilities by taking away the distraction of colour, forcing more attention on the contrast across edges….

“Physiologically, our visual system responds more sensitively to some hues than to others, which is why yellows and yellow-greens are brighter to our eyes. But more than this, there is our psychological response to different hues. One simple example of this is that ‘hot’ colours around orange are readily associated with flame and burning, and also the production of light. Most people feel these to be inherently brighter than, say, blues, which we tend to associate with water, coolness, and dim light.

“Take this away, and the tonal scale simplifies dramatically. What this allows is a clearer, purer concentration on the subtleties of transition between shades of gray.”


Hello! A few days ago I posted a some photos of hibernating hydrangea and Japanese maple leaves; here are the same photos, rendered in black and white, and modified with various filters in the Nik Collection to create additional contrast and detail, add a bit of glowing softness, and shift the black-and-white tones to a touch of silver-blue.

At the end of this post, there is a before-and-after gallery, if you would like to compare the color and black-and-white versions.

Thanks for taking a look!






Here are the before-and-after images; select the first one to compare versions in a slideshow.


Winter Shapes: Hydrangeas and Japanese Maple Leaves

From Expressive Nature Photography: Design, Composition, and Color in Outdoor Imagery by Brenda Tharp:

“It takes practice to get the look you want, and each situation is unique in what it presents in terms of light, color, and pattern. The best way to determine a reference point for this type of picture is simply to experiment and see what you get.”

From Light on the Landscape: Photographs and Lessons from a Life in Photography by William Neill:

“When trees are bare, their graceful forms are starkly revealed. The tones of beige and gray or black and white form a subtle palette in the landscape. The lines of grass and shrub, ice and fallen leaves, display themselves in simple, elegant designs, like a drawing or etching…. Winter photography offers us options at all scales.”


Hello!

I liked the first quotation above because it accurately expressed what I was trying to do with the photographs in the galleries below. Winter color in my part of the southeastern United States is often an odd mix of monochrome interspersed with bright whites, pale yellows, and greens from those hardy plants that don’t mind temperatures in the forty-to-fifty degree range; so some days I go hunting for washed-out colors and other days I look out for hidden bits of bright color instead. These photos are from a mostly-monochrome day.

The first five photos show the remnants of Japanese Maple leaves still clinging to their branches; and the six that follow are desiccated hydrangea leaves and flowers — all with some color and luminance adjustments (among other things) and with their backgrounds “painted” black.

Given the fine details within each of these photos, Lightroom stumbled a little at automatic subject selection; and I ended out spending quite a few hours carefully mousing around the edges of these leaves and branches to get the look I wanted. In the end, there were only a few photos in this set that I was satisfied with, but decided to post them anyway since that’s what experiments are all about: seeing (and in this case, sharing) what you get. I may take a shot at converting some of these to black and white; they might look good that way, and help reduce what (to me, at least) appear to be flaws in these renderings.

The last gallery, at the end of this post, shows the before-and-after versions of each of the five maple leaf photos and six hydrangea photos.

Thanks for taking a look!





Here are the before-and-after images; there were a lot of details to paint! 🙂