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Focus on a Photo #1

In this post, the first of a series, I’ll go more in-depth on a photograph that appears on my website – where, how, and why it was made, or what it means to me. I’ll aim to add one Focus on a Photo post every week or two, but if you’re curious about a specific shot, don’t wait for me to get around to it - drop me a line using the Contact form. Questions welcome!

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rain Forest, Olympia National Park, Washington, is a composite image of six separate shots that I combined in Adobe Lightroom. I made it the week following my retirement from a 30-year career in Washington State government – or said another way, in the first week of my photography career.

In early October 2014, my wife and I camped at the Hoh River in Olympic National Park. While walking the trail, we came upon these leaf maple trees, draped in beard moss, their massive leaves carpeting the ground.

Using a Nikon D300 camera body, Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 lens, Really Right Stuff tripod, panning clamp, and pano rail, I shot six vertical frames in RAW. The exposure settings were 1/10 sec at F11, ISO 1600.

The overcast sky made for low contrast and helped saturate colors, and the lack of wind allowed a slower shutter speed at F11 to capture all the details of the leaves, tree limbs, and sword ferns.

I wanted to immerse the viewer in the solitude and quiet of this scene, so I ordered a 20” X 60” metal print. I knew the luminosity and vibrancy of metal would be great, but I was a bit apprehensive, given the size (and cost!) of the print. Upon opening the shipping carton, I was astounded by the quality.

I exhibited this print (well, most of it – the right 1/5 of the frame was cropped from this version) at the 2017 Southwest Washington Juried Exhibition at the Minneart Center for the Arts, South Puget Sound Community College, in Olympia. It received the Viewer’s Choice award. Writing in the Weekly Volcano, art critic Alec Clayton said of it:

“It's [a] photo that looks just like a painting - autumn in the rain forest with thousands of golden leaves, each leaf standing out in stark detail as if lifted off the surface. This photo is overwhelming in its gorgeousness.”

This image – shown here in its full six-frame glory, never to be cropped again - rejuvenated my artistic vision for landscape photography. I will continue to make more stunning large-scale photographs of the natural world like this one.

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