Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pine tree bark

click photo to enlarge
With a "normal" length lens mounted on your camera - say 35mm or 50mm - or a zoom that covers the normal range a photographer wanders along looking around in much the same way that you do when you're not carrying a camera. However, putting a macro lens on a camera immediately alters the photographer's focal distance and field of view. You immediately start to look more closely at the objects nearby, and you home in narrowly on them, searching for interest in detail. At least that's what generally happens to me.

In the past I've likened seeing the world through the macro lens to returning to one's childhood, a time when small, nearby details, for example the ground, holes, tree roots, the texture of a wall or the reflection in a door handle, invited extended study and offered endless fascination. A while ago I was doing a little communal work with a group of villagers, cutting suckers and low branches from some roadside trees. As we went about our task I found myself at the base of one of a group of tall pine trees (Scot's pines, I think). The pattern and colour of the bark immediately caught my eye. Tree bark has been one of my recurring photographic subjects (see, for example, the bark of this silver birch, this Tibetan cherry and this plane tree), and I made a mental note to return with my camera and get a couple of shots of the fine texture.

When I did so, on a rather dull morning, I ended up with bark photographs that have a quality that in the past has caused me to reject such shots. Namely, the fine granularity of the bark can make the photograph appear to be out of focus when in fact it is perfectly sharp. That has happened, to an extent, here. However, in this instance I quite like how it offers a contrast to the sharp lines. Incidentally, and thinking once more about our childhood eyes and interests, the patterns in bark are rather like wallpaper, curtains and clouds in being very good at suggesting hidden faces, animals etc. I can see a vulture's head in this example, but again, that's probably just me!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm macro
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation:  0.33
Image Stabilisation: On