Sunday, April 7, 2013

Photo: The Ghost Forest of Neskowin

The Ghost Forest of Neskowin
Copyright Laura A Knauth, All rights reserved.
Please contact me for any usage or licensing options.

An ancient forest is slowly revealed and consumed by the tide in Neskowin, Oregon.

Technical Details
Canon 50d
18-200mm Lens, 28mm
f/11, 4s, ISO 100, EB +1
6 stop ND Filter

My concept for this photo started with the name of the place 'The Ghost Forest of Neskowin'. It is a place along the Oregon coast where trees were buried in sand thousands upon thousands of years ago; all that time, you could walk across the terrain and have no notion of what was buried beneath. But as the sands slowly erode into the ocean, the ancient trees are finally revealed … for only a brief moment. For as they are revealed, the sands no longer hold them in place, and the ancient logs are swept out to sea; eventually, you could walk along the sandy beach and there will be no hints the ancient forest ever existed. The thought was so haunting and poetic. While I was there, I was so appreciative to see these beautiful ancient trees, but realized it also meant they were now exposed to the elements - a visual reminder of an immense and ongoing process. I suppose their story is to cherish the moment, and then cherish what new mysteries might be revealed the next moments, and on, and on.

When I was processing the photo, a standard color image did not evoke this sense of history, or what will be, so I tried black and white. But a standard grayscale seemed too stark and emotionless, so I kept playing with a few monochrome presets (I was using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software at the time). The blue selection was an instant choice. Those bluish tones evoked the ghostly sense of the place that I was trying to convey.

I also had several different compositions to choose from especially since the ocean surf varied with each shot, leaving varied impressions. I liked this image with well defined rings around the ancient trunks. It seemed to echo the both the sense of a unique moment in time, and yet because of the nature of waves, a moment in transition as well. The line of the surf led back to the large haystack rock in the distance (called 'Proposal Rock').

Once I had properly adjusted the exposure for the rest of the image, this rock was way too dark - not only distracting, but a lost opportunity. So I spent most of my processing time trying to recover and balance the light values and details of the rock. I wanted it to be properly integrated as a compelling focal point of the image. It's intriguing that there is a forest of living trees growing atop this haystack, overlooking the remnants of the ancient forest on the beach. I also love the random sea gull walking along the sand, slightly ghostly itself as a result of the longer exposure. All in all, this was one of the more poetic images I've taken & loved that it captured a kind of story beyond a frozen moment in time.

by Laura A Knauth

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