Mirkwood Lives...

There is so much moisture in Pacific Northwest forests that moss often coats the tree entire.

South Prairie Creek takes a little trip through Burnett, a canyon between the little town of South Prairie and…wildness. The forests are damn near impassable. There may be moss several feet thick; beware falling through into water or hidden piles of rough timber.

In canyons like these, such deep forest comes right up to civilization. I got out of my car to photograph the stream below these trees, and my eyes immediately got stuck on the moss-covered branches. It has an unreal feel to it.

A little backstory. I have seen these moss-covered branches for years, and I have never been able to take a satisfactory picture of them. The color will be wrong, the wet moss will be so bright that you can’t see the trees or the background, and other little problems that frustrated me.

The new camera, with its greater dynamic range, and more accurate color, makes images like this possible. It turns out it was not my error, but just the limits of a certain level of technology. I am very happy to finally be able to take some of the pictures that have been frustrating me. :)

Technical info: This isn’t just a picture of the moss; the sun was coming in from behind; if you look carefully, you can see that some areas of the branches are sun-struck and some are not. (That the two utterly different things—sun-lit and shaded—can be nearly the same brightness is part of the reason photographs of the phenomenon were so difficult.) There is a word, gobsmacked, and I was very much that when I got out of the car and saw this.

150mm lens wide open at f/2.8, and the Phase One XF camera at ISO 50 and 1/1000th of a second exposure.

The sun was blinking in and out due to fast-moving clouds; this was the only photo that worked, but you only need one. :)

Here is a 100% crop from the upper right portion of the photo, showing how much detail is in it. As always, click to see the image at its full size.