Behind the Shot
with Aaron Reed
Canon 5D Mark III
Tamron 24-70mm/f2.8 VC
B+W Circular Polarizer
Every year during autumn I pay a visit to the beautiful Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon and this year was no exception. My wife Lisa and I arrived to find the garden at the height of fall color and got in line with the other 20+ photographers waiting for the front gate to open at 8am. Because I have photographed the garden many times before and images captured here are some of my most successful fine art images, I set out to create images different from those I had created and seen in the past.
The tree you see here is not “the” famous Japanese maple that you may have seen images of previously, but a smaller yet equally beautiful tree located on a hillside in the back of the garden. When I saw the leaves that were scattering the ground around the tree I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my image in a way that would evoke emotion without competing with the tree itself.
I dropped the legs of my RRS TVC-23 Versa all the way to the ground and rotated my camera vertically using my BH-40 LR ballhead & L-plate combo allowing my camera to rest just a few inches above the ground. I chose an aperture of f/2.8 and manually focused on the center of the tree and took the shot. Knowing that this approach may leave the tree itself a bit soft, I also took a second image at f/16 and during post I blended in the top 1/3 of the f/16 frame with the f/2.8 frame to create the image you see here. The fog in the background created just enough contrast to achieve the mood I had hoped for.