A Dark Hollow on South Prairie Creek

They are the same, but different.

I’m used to how wet the Pacific Northwest is. But no matter how many times you have crawled through traffic with your wipers hopelessly trying to snick away the rain, no matter how often you’ve sat through a heavy downpour in early spring wondering if today is the day it finally stops—the Northwest forests are where the real wet is.

I lugged tripod, the big camera, and two lenses along a bike path into the woods near our home this afternoon; the clouds were just starting to break up and there were patches of blue sky here and there.

This group of trees caught my eye; they are typical forest trees here, so covered in moss I’m not really sure what is tree and what is moss. The understory is mostly wild black raspberry, so I was not going through that to get closer to the water; the bike path was just fine, thank you very much.

This is a two-image panorama, with about a 1/3rd overlap. I originally shot the two of them as individual shots, but I kind of like the way they go together even though the clump of trees is nearly dead center (I was always told that you don’t just drop your subject of interest in the middle, but I do not listen well so it’s OK).

The subject for me is not the trees in the center but the texture of the undergrowth on both sides of the river. The shapes of the younger trees are also interesting: they do not all grow up, many seem to curl as if in submission to the forces of nature.

Technical info: Shot with the 32mm Rodenstock lens at f/11 (for good depth of focus, near and far) and 1/60th of a second. ISO 50; I was on a tripod and did not need a fast exposure. The air was dead still, very little leaf movement. We’ve had a week of medium to heavy rain, so the creek looks more like a river today.

I have been comparing the 32mm lens, my primary wide-angle, with an ultra-wide-angle, a 23mm Rodenstock. Here’s is how the scene looks with the wider lens:

It’s the same shot, but it’s not the same shot. The wider lens brings in more sky, more foreground detail, and more trees (most noticeably on the right edge). The scene is interesting but for me lacks the intimacy and the emotional feeling of the 32mm shot.

It’s as if the change in distance makes the photo more emotionally distant. Plus, the intricate curves of the younger trees are not as prominent, and I don’t notice them right away. The exposure is otherwise the same as for the 32mm lens: f/11 and 1/60th at ISO 50.

The 23mm lens goes back; the 32mm lens stays.

Note: It was the single shot below that initially caught my eye. I love a panorama, but this single shot captures the essence in an artful, balanced way with really intricate details.