Michael Durham is a nature photographer based in Portland, Oregon and recently spent an evening lighting a gigantic Oak Tree using strobes. He gave Photo Brigade an exclusive first person account of his difficult shoot.
“I knocked on the stranger’s door with some trepidation. What would they think of me, pulling into their rural gravel driveway without permission? What would they think of my request to photograph the beautiful old oak tree out in their pasture?
In the Willamette Valley in Oregon, there used to be vast oak savannas, but all that remains of these oak groves are the occasional, lonely giant sitting in a cow pasture or farmer’s field.
The gentlemen who opened the door was slightly perplexed by my desire to photograph his tree, but he was friendly. I explained that I would be photographing into the night using powerful studio strobes. “No problem” he told me, so I unloaded my gear right next to their garden.
I chose to use strobes, as opposed to painting the tree with a single light during a long exposure, because of my desire to perfectly balance the ambient light of the sky, and light on the tree.
Photographing this tree has been part of a larger project to illustrate interesting and majestic trees. By lighting them at night, I can isolate them from their background and accentuate their shape, almost as if they were a sculpture in a museum setting.
You can see more wonderful nature photography on Michael’s website.