Photo of the Month – Botany Bay

Hi Folks:

I still remember when I was visiting my aunt in Prince Rupert, BC back in 1983 that she directed me to a nearby marshy area where the poor growing conditions led to many of the trees adopting a natural ‘bonsai’ – stunted growth and twisted forms that would give a forester nightmares.  I’ve seen similar growth in other places in Canada as well – when I was working in eastern Ontario in 1979 we encountered a cedar swamp where the trees averaged 160-180 years old but were barely the diameter of the average human wrist.

Last weekend Marcia and I took a day trip from Victoria west to Port Renfrew to look for gray whales on migration, deciding to visit Botany Bay in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.  We didn’t see any whales, but the day itself was a wonderful adventure (in spite of a little inadvertant blood donation to a rock outcrop… fortunately I didn’t damage my shutter finger!)  Neither of us had yet been to that part of the island and being among the forest there was a welcome reminder of why we’ve decided to settle out here on the ‘wet’ coast.  Yes, we got a little rained on, but we also had sun and it’s that combination of factors that has led to the BC coast being among the most productive rainforest in the world.  We (okay, mostly me) made some 1200 images that day, mostly of the waves breaking on the rocky shore.  Most of those images will be deleted once I get time to sort through them all, but in and among the rocks and the water there was an area where the poor soil (rock) and the repeated pounding of the wind and waves has led to several sitka spruce trees that have adopted that same natural ‘bonsai’.  The largest known sitka spruce is 93 metres tall and 5 metres across; something to which this one can only aspire.  Tremendously fragile, these trees should never be disturbed but they make wonderful photographic subjects.  The image below is an example of one of them.

Sitka Bonsai

This is a three-image HDR composite, made at exposures of +1/0/-1 EV.  I shot the images handheld so I combined them into one using Autopano Pro 2.5.  I’ve found that Autopano Pro has the best alignment and ghost reduction of any software I’ve tried.  Brought the completed image back into Lightroom for final processing.

Okay, that’s it.  Now go out and make some photographs!

Mike.

P.S.  You can see a few short, low-res videos of Botany Bay (including the rock that assaulted me) here: Botany Bay videos.  Marcia shot the footage for the first two, and I took the second two.

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