Spring Trees

General Thoughts
Backlit Buds - Soco Gap — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia017-449

Backlit Buds – Soco Gap — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

I remembered having taken a springtime panorama at Soco Gap a few years ago and decided to head that way to see the same spot with what I thought would be late afternoon backlighting. The hillside was lit beautifully from behind and I took another panorama with that lighting, but with patience, waiting for the hillside to go completely in shade, left only the few foreground trees still lit by the sun. I passed the 40 minutes or so just watching motorists and motorcycles gliding by, but at one point, I turned around and saw a small group of flowers among the meadow grasses. I took a few shots thinking I might blend a sharp image with a blurred one, but ended up simply cropping the upper and lower portions to form a sliver of green punctuated by the lavender flowers.

Flowers in the Meadow t — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

Flowers in the Meadow t — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

It’s amazing how much cooler (blue) an image is when taken in the complete shade of late afternoon or early morning on a clear, blue sky day. The image below is an example and was one of the first taken on the trip as a way to get my feet wet since, as most have told me as well, it takes a while to get into “seeing” mode, and I wanted to do some shooting before the first sunset. It was the texture of the trunks that really caught my eye, but after several attempts, most of the images never seemed to work. They were either too busy, off balance, or lacked a central focus where the eye is initially drawn. This was the only one where it wasn’t too cluttered and, by standing slightly off center, the one tree crossed in front of the other giving the image a bit more tension than simply having them all parallel.

Spring Trunks — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

Spring Trunks — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

 

Pointalism -  Spring Forest — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

Pointalism – Spring Forest — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

What I truly love about spring is the pointalism effect of the tiny buds and new leaves backlit by the sun. Generally, you’re shooting almost directly into the sun, so a lot of care is needed to properly shield the lens from it. Otherwise there is some flare which degrades the image with severely reduced contrast. Also, it is usually a good rule of thumb to reduce the metered exposure by at least 1-2 stops to maintain the brilliance of the buds and that deep, deep dark background as illustrated by the image below.

Backlit Buds near Graveyard Fields — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

Backlit Buds near Graveyard Fields — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

After shooting Looking Glass Falls without much inspiration, the sunlight had already begun to reach into the surrounding forest and I thought I would try a panorama even though the lighting was pretty severe. I used a 35mm which is not the usual lens I would use because the distortion at the edges makes it difficult for the software to stitch the frames together. But it seemed to work this time since the air was still enough to maintain almost every leaf as sharp as it could be without any “ghosting”.

Looking Glass Spring Forest — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

Looking Glass Forest in Spring  — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC © jj raia

 

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