All images © Stan Navratil

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Post # 7 Juxtaposition in forest photography

Juxtaposition in photography means positioning two objects next to each other in the image in order to compare, contrast or link them.

It is an effective compositional element that I use intentionally to set off a train of thought.

Since my goal is portraying the forests in the framework of ecological zones, one component of my juxtapositions must be a tree or its botanical part or a forest stand.

To portray the ecological association and relationships within forests, I look for juxtapositions that tell the story.

(Photo #1) The side-by-side association of this white pine cone and seedling captures the compelling story of the renewal cycle.

White pine cone and white pine seedling
Interior Cedar Hemlock zone, Silver Beach Provincial Park, Shuswap, BC

(Photo #2). The Boletus mushroom and the young western hemlock both depend on mycorrhizae – the association of tree fine roots and fungal hyphae - for their symbiotical existence.

Boletus mirabilis and western hemlock seedling
Interior Cedar-Hemlock zone, Likely, BC

(Photo #3). Seeking and intentionally portraying calypso orchids in juxtaposition with lodgepole pine seedlings and a Douglas-fir cone represents the ecological niche of Interior Douglas-fir zone.

Fairyslipper (Calypso bulbosa), lodgepole pine seedling and Douglas-fir cone.
Interior Douglas-Fir zone, 150 Mile House, BC

Juxtaposition is a common tool in landscape images as well.

The powerful brilliant foreground of flowers coupled with the darker background of trees helps create the feeling of association between plants and trees representative of the ecosystems – lodgepole pine and white spruce parent stand in photo #4 and Englemann spruce stand in photo #5.

Common red paintbrush Castilleja miniata with lodgepole pine and subalpine fir stand.
Montane Spruce zone, Anahim Lake, BC
False solomon's seal, Smilacina racemosa and Englemann spruce.
Subalpine Fir zone, Barkerville, BC

(Photo #6). Using the contrast of complementary colours – opposites on the colour wheel – is demonstrated in the columbine image. Red flowers contrast with the green leaves of cow parsnip. The alder stems in the background enhance the sense of forest environment. 

Red columbine Aquilegia formosa, cow parsnip Heracleum lanatum and stems of mountain alder Alnus incana.
Interior Cedar-Hemlock zone, Alex Fraser Research Forest, Likely, BC

The last photo, #7, is an example of adding a touch of dynamic tension to the image. This was accomplished by using two contrasting elements: colour and shape. The warm yellow and orange set off the cool blue from the opposite side of the colour wheel. The repeated pattern of cones contrasts with the single object shape of the feather.

 Ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa cones, feather of black-billed magpie Pica hudsonia.
Ponderosa Pine zone, Stemwider Provincial Park, British Columbia

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Post # 5: Finding the order within chaos - continued

“..good philosophers prune the chaos of reality and train it into fixed shapes”..
 John Fowles  Tree  1983  
There are the situations where the landscape type  image inside a forest stand  is not pleasing.  There is much overlapping of variable size trees and shrubs and confusing tangles of branches . 
Two approaches  can be effective.

 In the first I embrace  the chaos and submerge my mind in the beauty of the ugliness. I may even seek mysterious scenes.

 I still shoot  wide angle images, accepting the intricacies of nature.  I may subtly think of composition but I do not let it interfere with my enjoyment of the mystery and magic of the natural web . 
 In the end in deference to my instinctive photography mind I am forced  to give the image some resemblance of structural composition ( third and fourth image).  
Using the second approach, I try to distill the scene by locating an interesting element, or elements,  and concentrating on it. 
 I may change to a long focus lens and make the selected element the centre of attention in the composition  (fifth image).

This approach is often used  as an alternative  to scenic images and is termed ‘intimate landscapes’. It is an useful tool  in forest photography  for improving the visual effect of images from seemingly  unattractive forest stands.    

In the sixth image  I needed to show the impact of bark beetle infestation and devastated conditions of the stands, a rather unsightly scene. I opted to emphasize the crisscrossed fallen trees as a element of the composition and to benefit from the late evening light - adding  bluish hue to fallen trees and background sunset colors.
Scenic , intimate landscapes , hidden landscape, microlandscapes - the semantics  is not so important as the power of observation to find and isolate interesting elements and  to portray them  in   true and attractive interpretation.

Walker Island Forest, Bella Coola 
Wet Coastal Forest. Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.

Sasquatch Provincial Park, BC.
Wet Coastal Forest. Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.

The curved branch and other moss covered branches form the frontal, vertical  plane , a powerful element in composition.  Sasquatch Provincial Park, BC.
Wet Coastal Forest. Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.

Intersecting lines of  the branches and of the fallen tree create an effective image of the dense low forest stratum.
Wet Coastal Forests, Coastal Western Hemlock Zone. Bella Coola, BC

Interesting element emphasized by framing it between western redcedar trunks.
Walker Forest,  Bella Coola, BC
Wet Coastal Forest, Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.
Lodgepole pine stand devastated by bark beetle infestation and by wind damage.
Subalpine Interior Forests, Montane Spruce Zone, Kloakut Lake, Chilcotin, BC.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Post # 4: Finding the order within chaos

“For photographic composition I think in terms of creating configurations out of chaos, rather than following any conventional rules of composition.”   Ansel Adams

The principal challenge of  forest photography  is dealing with the chaotic appearance of a natural scene. When walking into an original native forest stand we may be overwhelmed by the disarray of patterns, shapes and forms.  At first glance all seems messy .  It helps to slow down.  Soon we start discovering elements of composition, such as the distribution of tree trunks,  their patterns, symmetry, harmony or discord of tree sizes, angles of trunks.   Leaning or bent trees or fallen trees can be a powerful element in the composition.
In older and more open stands without dense understory the composition is easier. I strive to find the view that eliminates clutter like an obscured branch or shrub and to position the camera so that tree trunks do not overlap or touch. The image should also include as little as possible of bright spots of sky.

Conversely ,   shrub or smaller trees can be effectively   integrated into  composition ( fourth example) .  

The carefull positioning of camera was required to eliminate trees overlap and thus giving the depth to the scene.
Grove of western redcedar in the late evening light.
Interior wet-belt forests , Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone. Manning Provincial Park , BC
Central position of the nearest tree is balanced with the compositional use of fallen, dead trees.
Subalpine interior forests, Englemann Spruce -Subalpine Fir Zone, Cariboo Mountains, BC

The composition relies on the distribution of trees trunks and lines of fallen trees.
Old-growth forest in Englemann Spruce- Subalpine Fir Zone,
 Moffat Lakes,  Cariboo, BC.
Mountain managed forest of Norway spruce Picea abies and beech Fagus silvatica.
The Jizera Mountains, Czech Republic.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Post # 3: Documentary to Fine Art Photography to Abstracts

“Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer as artist.” Wikipedia Encyclopedia

 Fine art photography stands in contrast to documentary photography , which provides a visual account of the scene, landscape or  detail , produced  by camera with no or little creative input from  photographer.  
The distinction between fine-art and documentary images is subjective; it is guided by the photographer’s and viewer’s  perception.

 Fine art images can be  more   pleasing to the eye and having this greater  visual impact, hold the power  to raise public awareness of the beauty  and values of the subject ,  in our case forests. 

 Experienced fine-art photographers can transform  seemingly ordinary scenes into inspiring images. Chris Harris' photography  ( in his book “Motherstone”  is a  superb example of creating fine-art images of volcanic slopes and rocks where many photographers would end up with documentary photographs.

 Knowledge of the compositional techniques may not be enough. Fine-art photography is created as an expression of the artist’s vision and soul. 

 In a book project encompassing images from a wide array of ecological and geographic areas of British Columbia the blend of documentary and fine art photography may be unavoidable.
The plausible progression from documentary to fine-art photography of forests is below. More about fine-art photography , abstracts and composition in the future posts. 

Lodgepole pine stand. Sub-Boreal Pine - Spruce Zone.
West of Anahim Lake, Chilcotin. 
Lodgepole pine stand on dry site, mountain pine beetle infestation.
Sub-Boreal Pine - Spruce. South  of Nimpo Lake, Chilcotin.

Douglas-fir stand.  Interior Douglas-fir Zone.
Alex Fraser Research Forest, Knife Creek.

Western hemlock and western redcedar stand.
Interior Cedar Hemlock Zone. Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Western hemlock and western redcedar. Interior Cedar Hemlock Zone.
Nakusp, BC
Lodgepole pine stand infested by mountain pine beetle.
Montane Spruce Zone.  Kloakut Lake, Chilcotin.  
Beech Fagus silvatica and spruce Picea abies.
Czech Republic.

Remnant of original lodgepole pine stand. Sub-Boreal Pine -Spruce Zone.
Cariboo, NE of Williams Lake.
Aspen stand. Boreal White and Black Spruce Zone.
Dawson Creek, BC

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Post # 2: Tribute to British Columbia Forests

In the previous post I alluded to the vision of a book about British Columbia’s forests.  This project has been supported so far by the encouragement and input of three forest ecologists: Ray Coupe, Karel Klinka, and Ordell Steen.

The book will focus on what are called “unmanaged” forests, meaning those that have never been cut down.  They have been allowed to grow, change and regenerate according to natural patterns.  Such stands are increasingly and alarmingly rare.  This incredible heritage must at least be visually documented, celebrated and honoured.

The images will depict not only mature, old-growth forests but also the  stages of development following natural disturbances like fire, insect infestations and wind.

 In this post we show  the structural flow of how each  ecological zone might be featured, using the examples of Montane Interior Wet-Belt Forests, the Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.   From macro-view  (forest landscape and forest stand) through closer focus  (understory and plant community)  to micro-view  (details).

Interior wet-belt forests, Interior Cedar Hemlock zone,
Revelstoke National Park.

Western red cedar  grove.  Interior wet-belt forests. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Nakusp, BC

Western red cedar and western hemlock stand. Interior wet-belt forests. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Mount Robson Provincial Park, BC

Devil's club undergrowth. Interior wet-belt forests. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Mount Robson Provincial Park, BC

Red huckleberry. Interior wet-belt forest. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Silver Beach Provincial Park. Seymour Arm, BC
Oval-leaved blueberry.  Interior wet-belt forest. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Nakusp, BC

Western white pine cone and seedling. Renewal cycle.
Interior wet-belt forest. Interior cedar-hemlock zone.
Silver Beach Provincial Park, Seymour Arm, BC

Hygrocybe sp. Interior wet-belt forest.
Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Nakusp, BC

Western hemlock seeds on moss layer.
Interior wet-belt forest. Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone.
Nakusp, BC

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Post # 1: My Goal

My photography is my tribute to forests that have motivated me through my life and never fail to enrich my spirit.  My goal  is to produce fine art images of these magnificent ecosystems  in order to inspire viewers  and make them aware of this precious and diminishing heritage. I hope to increase society’s recognition and protection of this incredible legacy.
Most of the posted images will feature the uncut forests of British Columbia since these treasures are rapidly disappearing.  My intention is to document their beauty, spiritual gifts, wonder and magic for future generations in a photographic book.
In future posts  I will discuss aspects of photographing in forests and will share  images from the diverse ecological zones of British Columbia and other  temperate forests as well. 

Fall mosaic. Interior wet-belt forests, Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone. 
   Avola, BC  

 Wolf lichen and lodgepole pine cone.
Interior dry-belt forests, Interior Douglas-fir zone. Alexis Creek, BC 

 White birch. High key image.  Interior dry-belt forests. Interior Douglas-fir Zone.
Deception Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC 

 Grove of Sitka spruce.  Wet Coastal Forest. Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, BC

 Group of majestic western redcedar.  Wet Coastal Forests. Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.
Bella Coola, BC