Rancho Santa Margarita, California, January 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
When the coastal fog works it way up the canyon to my back yard, the ensuing mysterious vista recalls my initial photographic interest to investigate the natural landscape. To photography this intriguing landscape is way too tempting and I have learned not to fight the impulses. What has evolved has been for me to make the resulting image a little more ambiguous and I really do not care if the photograph has more urban elements than purely found in nature.
I find this type of photograph to be a lot more fun as a singular image, that is not one that is not currently involved in a book project, using a snap-shooter camera of our current generation: my Samsung S5 camera phone coupled with my favorite downloaded app, SnapSeed. Most of this image was created later the same morning in-camera and today I downloaded it to work it with a little Photoshop CC tweaking.
I created this image a couple of weeks ago, but I became caught up in my preparation to attend photo l.a. So this as been lurking on my phone for awhile, although I had immediately posted the Samsung version on Instagram and Facebook.
One other thing I have recently realized, I take the interesting & “fun” photographs now almost always with the camera-phone but then revert to the film or full-frame digital when working on my “serious” projects. At the moment, these are like two ships passing in the night. Nevertheless, while enjoying the Samsung/Snapseed results, this has brought me full circle as to why I enjoyed photography in the first place.
Last, my challenge for this photograph is to depict a mysterious place, clocked in the vail of the fog. Using the zone system frequently, I can become too easy lured into making sure that the dark’s are truly black, while the light’s are very white, e..g. a full scale image. With fog, a full scale image might just kill the effect I was looking for (pre-visualization); so then how black to make the dark’s and how to keep that glowing highlight? So for me, this results in a lower contrast image.
Still, I find it very tempting to try to bring up the contrast, thus the texture, of the bark of the foreground tree!
Note: When I initially posted this photograph and article, I did the mistake I call brainless posting. Which is to say that when I finished working on the image and I saved it as a JPEG to post, I automatically sized it for the blog; 1200 pixels wide. Which regretfully distorted the photograph on the web, it was too large and created hallows around the tree limbs and everywhere there as any contrast. You can still see some of that now within the image. So after realizing the error of my ways, I went back into photoshop and saved the image at its original size of about 750 pixels, which allows the image to retain its resolution much better on the web.