Tree Roots along South Prairie Creek
As this tree slowly fell from erosion, it adapted and continues to thrive.
This was shot from just above water level, in a spot where the creek forms a pool at higher water. I set up the tripod with the camera about 18” above ground level.
I think this is the point of view the scene needs; I’ve shot it repeatedly over the last few years without getting the result I really liked. Shot with a lens I never (until now) use for landscape: the Sony 50mm f/1.2. I added a 10-stop neutral density filter to give the water a smoother look. Exposure: 20 seconds at f/6.3, ISO 100. The photo above is a panorama of three shots.
(I rarely use a 50mm lens, often regarded as a ‘normal’ lens for the 35mm format, for landscape. The angle of view is too limited, and also does not focus in well enough to capture details. Until of course, it winds up being perfect as here.)
I spent about 20 minutes on this shot, first trying the camera high as usual, and finally realizing that wouldn’t work. By ‘work’ I mean capture the medieval aspect of the twisted, exposed roots. Getting down to the level of the roots was the key to getting a photo I liked.
The shade here is very deep; it was a brilliantly sunny day, and it was difficult to come up with an exposure that would capture both the blue of the sky and the details in the roots. I think I lucked out with time of day; the filtered sunlight on the roots is rarely there.
Here is a similar point of view with the camera at normal eye level. A bonus is that during the 20-second time exposure, a family move through the field of view, leaving their ghosts recorded on the shot.
The problem, of course, is that with the narrower 50mm lens, the roots are out of the shot entirely—even if I had swung the camera left, they would be too low to see. I rethought the shot while talking with the family as they walked by; I rearranged everything and got the shot I’ve been after for a long time—with the wrong lens, even.