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Endurance, Bristlecone pine, California

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 29 October 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Is there a better way to showcase the majesty of a 4,000 year old bristlecone pine than a simple silhouette? In this day of HDR (high dynamic range blending of multiple exposures) and light painting ("painting" a subject with direct light during a long exposure), I sometimes feel light a dinosaur (how many pro photographers do you know who don't own a flash?). But I enjoy the challenge of "limiting" myself to my camera's vision of the world.

This is not an indictment of HDR, light painting, or any of the other creative techniques that prevail today--all render beautiful results when done well (check out Don Smith's dramatic light painted image of this very tree as we stood side by side in the Schulman Grove of California's White Mountains). Ultimately photography should be a source of pleasure, and the variety of techniques available to photographers today only increases the opportunities for enjoyment and expression in nature.

My narrow approach to photography is simply a matter of personal preference: It's what makes photography enjoyable for me. That doesn't mean I don't use Photoshop, nor do I disdain others for their creative use of post-processing. I happen to love Photoshop for the giving me the control I never had when I shot color transparencies. But while I've fully embraced the digital era, I find myself still approaching the craft of photography like a film photographer. I like silhouettes for their ability to distill a subject to its essence.

It turns out that the bristlecones that live the longest are those exposed to the most extreme conditions (there's metaphor there). In this case I opted for a simple silhouette because it was the purest way to capture the emotion this magnificent old tree conveys. I took many exposures before rain and lightning drove Don and me for cover, finally selecting for processing this frame with more clouds than sky because the clouds seem to best emphasize the harsh conditions these natural marvels have endured.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Excellent composition and colors. The tree is really special, what a beauty ! Have a nice day Gary :)

29 Oct 2010 8:41am

Michelle from Elverson, United States

I absolutely love this image!

29 Oct 2010 1:12pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

Hi Gary...I don't want to take a bunch of your time here but your words above have my mind so busy with thoughts....I am certainly not a pro or even an advanced photographer but I sure do agree with your comments above - in every respect - it's how I feel about things too. I like HDR when tastefully and sparingly done like Elizabeth carmel and Don (and a few others) have done. But I prefer trying things in a "less assisted" way. I LOVE silhouettes like this....And this tree, apart from all the others on that rocky slope, this teee is the one tree that Barbara and I most truly love and call as our own...if only in our hearts. So thank you, Gary, for your very eloquent words and images...your website name once again rings so true in relation to your work, your words, and your marvelous, marvelous art...Thank You...and have a great Workshop in Utah - I only wish I could be there driving you nuts ;-) dj

29 Oct 2010 2:09pm

Julie from Easton, United States

This shot is just a work of art! Spooky yet beautiful! The blue and stars are just so cool!!!!!

31 Oct 2010 5:36am

VisualStoryteller from Cape Cod, United States

Yet another quality example of the power of good composition and use of available lighting. The story you tell both in words and, most impressive, in the image is full of mood, emotion and message. Well done Gary.

31 Oct 2010 12:21pm

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

this tree is absolutly fantastic, and your pict reflect a real soul...

31 Oct 2010 1:55pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

superb composition - i like how the branches are stretching out towards the stars and sky! almost as if truly alive...

1 Nov 2010 4:07am

Kelly Morvant from Lafayette LA, United States

Wonderful image! I love the Bristlecone pine trees! Gothic looking!

1 Nov 2010 4:18pm

Kelly Morvant from Lafayette LA, United States

I agree totally!

1 Nov 2010 6:29pm

Jerilyn from Deadwood, United States

Absolutely spectacular. Thank you for sharing.

3 Nov 2010 6:06pm

Marie from FRESNES, France

très belle silhouette.

3 Nov 2010 8:30pm

Julia from Bakersfield, California, United States

this speaks to every part of my being <3

10 Nov 2010 6:19pm