How would you shoot this (OT)?

Started Jul 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
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jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 8,998
How would you shoot this (OT)?

There is an old graveyard next to a small lake that I regularly visit to take wildlife and nature photos (some great birds hang out there).  The gravestones are in moderate disrepair (lots of tipped headstones from vandalism), but it is kept mowed and otherwise tidy.

There are some extremely tall trees in amongst the graves (and in the more forested area on the edge of the lake), including some pines that are in the range of 100 ft high.  Being relatively isolated trees in an otherwise mowed graveyard, they are pretty impressive to look at, and I've gotten a few shots of them in past.

I had been at the lake there on the 6th, looking for birds to shoot, but it was a fairly dull day on the avian front, so I snapped some shots of the gravestones and some water plants, but that was it.  Yesterday I went back for a quick bird check, and as I was driving in, I realized that one of the gigantic pines had come down.  There was a rather spectacularly shattered trunk base, which was about 15' high, and the whole rest of the tree trunk had fallen in an easterly direction, fortunately landing between the trunks of two other large pines nearby (and not taking them with it).

At first I thought the tree must have been taken down by a lightning strike from one of the severe storms that came through this week, but then I looked more closely and realized that the entire interior of the lower part of the trunk was just hollow.  The interior of the base that was standing was also a very dark color and it had disintegrated in little squares of wood.  (I looked it up, and it's heart rot, probably due to some kind of fungal infection).  So, I suspect it was just the severe winds of the storms that were enough to knock it down in its weakened state.

In any case, it was pretty amazing to see in person.  I paced out the total length of the trunk from where it ended on the ground to the base, and it was at least 100 feet long.  The catastrophic failure of something that big was so dramatic that I really wanted to capture it somehow in images, so I started trying to figure out how to shoot it to get across both how big and how impressive this tree and its demise were.  I got a few shots that show the damage and the interior rot (and the diameter of the base of the trunk, too), but nothing I took really conveys the actual size of the tree or the magnitude of its spectacular demise.  Of course, even with a reasonably wide lens (24mm FF = 12mm M43), I could not nearly get the length of the entire trunk into one shot.  I would have had to back up into the Poestenkill river to get far enough to get the entire thing into one shot, unfortunately.

So, my question to you all is:  How would you shoot this?  What would you do to convey the majesty of this huge tree and its dramatic end?  (Of course, there are some things you can't put in a the intense pine wood odor (actually smelled really nice) from all of that open wood)...  Given the space limitations for how far back I could go, and also that parts of the tree were obscured by the other trees it had fallen between, how could I have better approached this?

The shots I got are below.  I didn't get any of the top part of the tree between the other pines as I just didn't think they would come out well, so this is all I have.

The trunk extends at least another 50' to the left of where this shot ends.

You can see the crumbling texture of the heartwood, but no evidence of burn marks from lightning.

Back view; one major branch split off and fell to the right.

Interior shot of the fallen part of the base of the trunk.  You can see how hollowed out the center is from some kind of rot.

How would you have approached this?


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