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Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Signature Photograph

AFTER
BEFORE

This is the image that started it all...that really marked the commencement of my serious interest in photography. If any of you follow me on Flickr, than you may have noticed that this image is my Flickr avatar. There's an interesting story behind this tree...there seems to always be an interesting story behind my images...or at least, a story. Don't know how interesting my stories are to all of you, but I'm easily entertained so I find them kind of cool. LOL! Anyways, many years ago, when I was an infant photographer, I often perused Flickr in search of photographs that I found inspirational. i would "favorite" these photos and add them to my personal gallery of images that I absolutely loved. One day, I came across an image that blew me away. I mean, I heard harps and angels singing when this image came across my computer monitor. It was from another world. It was a photograph of a Japanese Maple tree during autumn. Doesn't sound that intriguing? Here is the image (click on the link). See for yourself and then come back for the rest of the story. Japanese Maple

Pretty impressive huh? Anyways, turns out this is a very famous tree. There are Flickr groups devoted solely to this infamous tree, which is found in the Portland (Oregon) Japanese Gardens. This may be one of the most photographed trees in the world, and you can clearly see why. This tree inspired me to take my little photography hobby to the next level. I became determined to create images that evoked the same type of intense sensory experience that I experienced when viewing this photograph of the Japanese Maple. Unfortunately, I have not yet made it to Portland to photograph this incredible tree, but I've visited other Japanese gardens in search of a similar tree. My image above was taken at a Japanese garden in Hammond, NY. It is very difficult to find Japanese maple trees that turn orange like the one in Portland. If you can find an orange Japanese Maple, it only stays orange for about a week or two in the fall season. I've seen a few, but they are usually small or in front of someone's home, and it just doesn't have the same effect when there is a house or driveway behind it. One of the things that makes this tree in Portland so special is its placement on top of a small hill. This allows a photographer to photograph the tree from ground level, getting the blue sky in the background. Also, it allows for some intense lighting scenarios if photographed at the right time of the day. Here is the link to the Portland Japanese Garden website if you're interested. Portland Japanese Garden 

Post Processing
My Japanese Maple image is NOT an HDR image. Although I tried to process it as an HDR, it simply did not look good. It was a windy day when I took photographs of this tree and there was too much movement among the tree branches. This caused way too much ghosting when I attempted to create an HDR. So, i simply took the best exposed shot of the tree and did some basic enhancement in Photoshop such as levels, curves, shadows/highlights, cropping out certain areas, etc., etc. I did not use any creative filters on this image such as the Phototools filters. I guess you can say this image is pretty "au naturale". Enjoy!! 

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