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  • Writer's picturestephenriella

The last challenge!!

This is the last of the 7 week photo challenge! First, I wanted to thank everyone who has participated. It has been great to see all of your images! Now, on to the good stuff! The subject for the final challenge is trees. For anyone that has followed my photography for a while, you know that I often use trees as the main subject. I wanted to share a couple of different ways that you can approach tree captures.

This first image is one of my very favorite ways to shoot trees. It's simple enough, as long as you keep a couple things in mind. First, make sure there is a break in the trees. Having some open space helps break up the image and remove some of the potential noise. Second, get LOW! As low as you can. Don't be afraid to lie on the ground, if need be. Last, I recommend using a bracketed exposure. A half stop difference in each shot. It can be difficult to retain the detail in the trees without completely blowing out your highlights. Doing this will ensure that you aren't going home empty handed from your shoot.

Ah, the lone tree. These shots can be challenging. When shooting in dynamic light, such as a sunset, here are a few tips to help you keep that detail and still capture the dramatic colors you want. Manual focus! *Gasp* I know, I said it. Everyone is consumed with using the next amazing bit of technology when it comes to autofocus, but there is a reason why manual focus wins out here. Let's go through the basics and then we will approach the manual focus issue.

Step 1: Keep a shallow depth of field. That means your F-stop should be in a range between 2.8 and 5.6, depending on focal length. The reason for the shallow depth of field, is we need to create separation from the subject and everything else in the image.

Step 2: ISO settings need to be as low as they go. You will want to see the texture from the bark on the tree, not the grain from a high ISO setting.

Step 3: A lone tree is great, but a couple of things to draw interest in the frame will help. In this case, some roots in the foreground and the boat in the background added to the shot and helped round out the image.

Now, back to that pesky manual focus. Once you have your camera settings ready, turn off the auto focus and focus down on that tree bark. Get the focus as tack sharp as you can. One thing you may notice is that you can't see much (or any) of the texture. Congratulations! Manual focus just saved you from underexposing your image and losing those precious details. Once you have the focus dialed in and you double check your exposure, make sure your camera is on a two second delay to help remove any potential camera shake. From there, just click away!!

Last, but most certainly not least, is that conditions will not always be in your favor. Sunrise and sunset are great times to shoot. However, with trees you often find one you want to shoot, but when you get home it ends up being a jumbled mess. This may be because additional items in the background that you could not see during the shoot, blended together with your subject. For this reason, some of the best shots you can take are in the elements. Whether it's rain, snow or fog, they all help break up any annoying background mush you may encounter. If you find a great subject and it's not working, don't write it off as a wasted attempt. Revisit the area during the next foggy/snowy day and watch how the image transforms.

As always, feel free to tag me in your posts on Instagram for a chance to be featured on my stories page. If you have any questions feel free to reach out via message or email. Happy shooting all!!

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