Photo Of The Day: A Walk in Redwood Regional Park


The day was incredibly hot. I carried a gallon of water with me along the dry and dusty trail along the ridge above Oakland. I drank almost all of it. It’s rare that I get out into nature lately so when a friend asks me to go on a hike into the trees, I will assuredly say, “Yes!”, even on a hot day like that one!

PhotoClub Challenge: Bare Tree Portraits

Are you out of ideas? Check in here on Mondays for a weekly 7-day photography challenge to get your vision roaming!

Each week the challenge requires that you take 36 images during the following 7 days. Your deadline is always next Monday morning for the current week’s challenge. The challenges might be thought provoking, might be silly, and could even be tedious.

The purpose of taking thirty-six images – equivalent to one roll of film – rather than just one or two images, is that thirty-six forces you sit with the project, rework it, rethink it, conceptualize it during the week. Your first or second image might be good, but when you create all thirty-six images of one challenge/assignment, you’ll begin to see little things that might make you want to move in another direction.

Use your camera as the cropping tool.
Don’t waste your pixels! Another point of the challenge is to get down and tight with taking images, using your camera as a cropping tool, rather than cropping images after taking them, during processing. None of the weekly subjects will have broad sweeping images as a response … Think of it this way, it’s not so much to have a window or a door or an arch *in* the photograph as it is to have the photographs be *of* the subject of the challenge.

Taking one or two images for the weekly assignment may complete it, but thinking about the project for seven days and taking thirty-six images will allow you to deeply explore it.

Once you’ve taken the images, load them into a gallery on your blog and come back to that challenge’s post and post the link to your gallery post in the comments below by the following Monday!

Oh, at this point, this project is not about being adept at using PhotoShop. Basic manipulation of the images is ok – auto levels, curves, contrast, color correction when needed – but these projects are more about mental focus, creating discipline, getting control of composition, meeting deadlines, and learning to use your camera as the canvas and the cropping tool.

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The PhotoClub Challenge this week is the study is “Bare Tree Portraits”.

I suppose they could also be called “Tree Nudes”, or “Tree Studies”, but calling this week’s challenge “Bare Tree Portraits” gives us opportunity to create other tree studies throughout the year.

Over the last year I’ve been inspired by Van Gogh’s paintings of trees. He painted them throughout the year, although spring and fall seemed to be his favorite time to capture their portraits. Bare trees, those without leaves or greenery, make interesting compositions in that they can be many things – chaotic, symmetrical, asymetrical, stoic, peaceful, rough, smooth … It seems that the longer trees are studied, the more they take on an individual personality, a story. I think Van Gogh tuned into that and captured that in his work.

Read through the PhotoClub description above to make sure you get why you are doing the challenge. Make sure that the composition of your images of “Bare Tree Portraits” is 100% about the challenge.

Use your camera as the cropping tool and post full/uncropped images.

The challenge is 36 images of “Bare Tree Portraits” as the main subject in the photographs, all taken in the next 7-days and posted in a gallery on your blog by next Monday. Post the link to the gallery on your blog or web site below by commenting on this post and we’ll come over and comment on what we see, how and if, it visually answered the challenge.

Always experiment with variations within the subjects of the challenge – composition, contrast, shape, texture, colors, shadow …

Remember: These are not images that just happen to have bare trees *in* them, but rather they are images, or rather intentional studies, *of* bare trees. It’s all about intention.