Hank Schoch  

A Pinon Pine sapling by Hank Schoch

June 2022 - A Pinon Pine sapling

About the Image(s)

A Pinon Pine sapling, perhaps three feet tall, clings to a precarious perch on naked rock at Colorado National Monument’s Devils Kitchen. A natural grotto surrounded by a cluster of massive, free-standing sandstone monoliths, the site is a short hike from the nearest paved road and a popular hiking destination. I am often drawn there by the ever-changing interplay of light and shadow, and the place never disappoints. Framing of the shot was pretty straightforward. I wanted the sapling framed by rock and open sky, I wanted just a hint of open sky at the bottom of the frame to complement the greater expanse of sky at the top, and I wanted low-angle morning light to accentuate the texture of the weathered rock. If memory serves, post-processing in Lightroom 6 was minimal. I probably boosted clarity a bit and adjusted levels to capture more detail in the shaded areas. Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 at 35mm, hand-held. Exposure was 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 200.

9 comments posted

Terry Campanella   Terry Campanella
Welcome to the Group 16, Hank! I can see why this location is well worth the hike. Framing the sapling is a wonderful way of telling this story. The open sky at the top and bottom add to the wonders you have captured here. My suggestion for improving this image is to use the Dodge tool in Photoshop on some of the shadows to give us a chance to see more of the magnificent colors and layers that are hidden. I would also like to suggest a slightly different crop that still gives. you a sense of the hight but removes a bit of the very bright area on the left side of the image. I also took the liberty of increasing the saturation a bit.   Posted: 06/06/2022 17:03:32
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Hank Schoch   Hank Schoch
Thanks for your comments, Terry. The "story," at least as I envision it, concerns the hopeless struggle of a sapling in a completely inhospitable environment -- steeply sloping, arid, naked rock. You'll notice that there isn't one other living thing in the picture, not even so much as a blade of grass. The presence of the tree is an aberration, but there it is, no doubt due to some absent-minded jay or chipmunk.

I'm not opposed to edits that are believable, like your suggestion to lightly dodge some of the shadow areas. But if, as you recommend, I were to dodge the streak of light at left to diminish its intensity, how would I explain the difference between it and the similar surface to the right of it that's brightly illuminated by the same direct sunlight?   Posted: 06/08/2022 15:52:09

Walter Naumann   Walter Naumann
Great composition with angled leading lines to the tree including the sunlit streak. In my opinion the sky below is a distraction and should be cropped out.

Very good image. Welcome to the group.   Posted: 06/06/2022 20:41:51

Terry Campanella   Terry Campanella
Hank, I think it is interesting that you see the sapling as a "hopeless struggle" and I see it as a "tenacious little character" beating all odds.
As far as dodging the streak, it is more way of allowing the eye to not be distracted by the brightness and focus on the tree rather than "technical" accuracy (my opinion only).   Posted: 06/10/2022 14:36:53
Hank Schoch   Hank Schoch
Terry, my original title was "Tenacity," but it was pre-empted and changed to "A Pinon Pine Sapling" because I didn't know how to attach the title to the image. Yes, it's a tenacious little tree, but it's doomed.   Posted: 06/10/2022 16:46:26

Joan Funk   Joan Funk
Hank, you did a superb job of accomplishing your goals in photographing this image. It shows the value of pre-visualizing that I often read about. You got the framing and the light just as you wanted it, for a very successful capture of the little tree surviving in its harsh environment. I agree with Terry's suggestion to lighten some of the darkest areas of the rocks.   Posted: 06/10/2022 16:07:23

Dr V G Mohanan Nair   Dr V G Mohanan Nair
Welcome Hank to the Group 16. Interesting image. The image tells a story and gives a good sense of height. To me, the image is a little dark. Some shadows adjustment may solve this problem. The portion of the sky on the bottom is a mild distraction. I think a little crop to reduce the size of this blue portion will give the sense of height and reduce the distraction. I tried both and the resulting image is given below   Posted: 06/15/2022 05:00:39
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Hank Schoch   Hank Schoch
Thanks, Mohan. I plead guilty to preferring darker, more saturated exposures. Thus, my camera's exposure compensation control is routinely set to underexpose by 1/3-stop. I do like your suggested crop.   Posted: 06/15/2022 16:35:25

Bogdan Bricelj   Bogdan Bricelj
Nice scene!

I agree about lightening of darker areas. I would do that with shadows.

I would make much tighter crop from the bottom and left. Some additional sharpening would be good.   Posted: 06/23/2022 15:47:57


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