Tree Therapy
Note: As of this writing (May 12, 2020), we've been in work-from-home/shelter-in-place for 11 weeks. I've been keeping myself sane and hoping to inspire others with an ongoing pandemic photo journal, but I thought this little diversion from the end of Week 10 was worth its own project. I was tiring of finding my own inspiration in my backyard. Not that I'm complaining; I know how fortunate I am to have some lovely green space to walk through and look at, especially in the city. But I was yearning to look around and not see a fence or wall or window anywhere nearby. 

It has been a busy few weeks with work and I decided to take Friday as a personal day. I slept in, spent the morning running errands and after lunch, took a much-needed walk in nearby Highland Creek ravine. A couple hours of tree therapy was sorely needed. And I wanted to photograph trees and rocks that were NOT in my own backyard, for a change. It was not a particularly beautiful day; in fact it was quite cold for May, windy and overcast for the most part, but there was also much evidence of spring, and like the seasons, it reminded me that the pandemic too will pass in time

I captured everything in this project with my new(ish) Olympus OM5 Mark III m/43 camera. It packs into a very light carry for a hike. I shot with my 12-50mm lens and my Panasonic 45-150mm lenses. The 12-50 has some basic macro capabilities built into it, which came in handy a few times.
But that didn’t matter. What mattered was being out there, where the noise of traffic was minimal, and the calls of red-winged blackbirds, the gurgling of the nearby creek, the wind blowing through bulrushes and trees were my soundtrack. No incoming email; just incoming analog signals. Sound, sight, touch, smell.
I managed a few captures I was pleased with; experimented with motion and - my favorite - moving water. Just being out in the woods was the most important thing, though. The two hours flew by, and I returned home with a lighter heart.
Going Deep
As I was heading back to my car, the light and shadow striking the evergreens (below) grabbed me. I composed the shot to exclude or hide any evidence of the nearby walking path, and the concrete bridge 40 feet in the distance, and made a few captures. I also thought I would try some focus-stacking on this scene. The image on the left is a single capture, processed in Lightroom. The image on the right is a 3-frame focus stack (blended in Photoshop) and then processed in Lightroom, in a similar fashion to the single frame capture.

Shot with my Panasonic zoom at f/11, I knew the depth of field would not extend throughout the scene. This is evident if you view the image on the left at a larger size (check out the tree trunk on the left of frame). By running a focus stack process through the camera (it can do this automatically), and then blending the images in Photoshop, I end up with extremely deep depth of field from front to back. 

There is definitely a different visual quality to the stacked image, in part no doubt to the changes in shadow and light that were blended. A worthwhile exercise (and good practice).

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