Towards dusk, on the slow 20%-grade slopes up the Sonora Pass road on the Eastern slope of the Sierras, I passed this grove of Aspens. There was something about the almost ghostly way the trees touched, like people slowly dancing, that caught my attention, but I kept driving. I hadn’t gone very far before I realized that I needed to go back.
There are many reasons not to make photos, with a shortage of time, and wanting to press on to reach a campsite or other destination towards the top of the list. I’ve learned—at least most of the time—to not listen to these reasons, and to go ahead and make the photo anyway. Having to take care of one’s kids presents a different challenge to photography, but that’s a story for another time.
I knew immediately that the contrast between the white trunks and the background of dusk was perfect for monochrome, and I shot the frames to correspond with this creative intention by underexposing generally.
This image was created from three compositionally-identical frames shot on tripod with my new 35mm prime lens at f/22 and ISO 100. I used shutter speeds of one second (about 1/2 stop too dark according to the camera’s light meter), 3/5 of a second, and 1/10 of a second (very dark).
I combined the images retaining the color information primarily by hand layering, but also adding a pass from Nik’s Merge to HDR Pro. When I was happy with the color version of the image, I converted to monochromatic using Photoshop B&W Adjustment layers and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2—once again hand-layering tonal values for specific areas of the image.