The Tree

As I look at the tree I know I'm standing at the edge of night...

While I was at the Art Westport event many people asked me where the tree was that I used for this photograph. I explained that it was located at Shawnee Mission Park in Lenexa, Kansas. I could tell that they thought if they could go find the tree it would look just like this piece.

I explained that in reality the tree was really in my mind. I saw it before I went looking for it. I knew exactly what I wanted to create and all I needed was a tree that acted as the base subject of this piece of art. I went to this park because it seemed that I remembered a lot of trees that kind of stood away from other trees. Back in the day, I sailed a lot at this park. The lake isn’t too big but it was all I could get too rig and sail then get home in a reasonable amount of time.

Once I sailed on Pleasant Bay in Cape Cod I sold my boat. Shawnee Mission Lake would never do again. Pleasant Bay is a large bay. I can spend 30 to 40 minutes sailing across it. The wind is usually good and definitely a challenge at times.

So it had been a long time since I’ve been to this park but I did find exactly what I was looking for. A Halloween tree. A tree that stood on the edge of forever. That in my mind I could see the looming night ahead. What this photograph means to me isn’t as important than the fact it illicit an emotional response from those who look at it.

It seemed to do that. Other things that were important to the raw image was the fact it had to be cloudy, the tree needed to have lost all its leaves and stood well away from other trees. I put my Nikon D2xs on a tripod to produce the sharpest image I could and shot several exposures at different settings.

Once the image was captured I came back to my digital darkroom and proceeded to spend the next three to four hours fussing over the image until I produced what “I” had seen. I don’t talk much about detailed technique on how I work but I will say I used several filters and a few layers to finally get what I was after.

I told the folks at the Art Westport event that they’d be surprised to see the image I started with. There was so much interest I decided to stick it here (again) so those who were there can see what I started with. To me art is art. The medium you use is a matter of choice. I love to use photographs as the starting point. Those of you who have just bought a digital camera and are ready to conquer the world STOP. Before you do study art. All kinds of art. Read about how the human mind processes image information. Get the theory down. Shut off the automatic functions of your camera and use the manual controls so your eyes begin to see light in values. But most of all close your eyes and examine the world inside of you so you can find a point of departure. This is what makes it art not a photo.

Here is the original image. Enjoy…