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When A Photo Of Trees Is Really Of Clouds Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 October 2014

One advantage of being a photographer is that it is not conducive to the sedentary life. You have to stand up. And often you have to walk. Or even hike.

Clouds. The trees are but a foil.

So yesterday as the sky cleared from a small storm, we hoisted our old Nikon D200 over our shoulder and took a shortcut through Golden Gate Park on a hike north.

As we crossed Nancy Pelosi Drive behind the Academy of Sciences, we looked both ways (of course). To the southeast we saw a spectacular array of clouds dressed as trees for Halloween. No other explanation came to mind.

We pulled out the D200 with an 18-200mm Nikkor on it and a polarizer on that and fired away at f8, 1/640 second and ISO 400 using a focal length of 50mm, which on the D200 is the 35mm equivalent of 75mm. It was just a Raw capture, which we converted to DNG on import.

In Photoshop CC 2014.2 this morning, we pulled it up and used Camera Raw's Clarity to sharpen the acuity, opened the Shadows a bit to give the trees a bit more volume and recovered just a bit of the Highlights to give the clouds a bit more volume, too. Minor, minor shifts as these things go.

The grass really was that green, too. And, looking at the real values of the scene at the time, we cautioned ourselves not to open up the Shadows just because we can or increase the Black level just for drama.

But is it a shot of the trees? Or the clouds?

We worried about that even as we composed the image in the viewfinder. The trees are so dominant. A dark swath crossing the middle of the image, even more insistant on your attention in our 16:9 crop.

But those trees are there in the fog, too. It isn't about the trees. It's about the clouds.

And their amusing imitation of the trees.

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