Creativity Challenge #17 - Recovery

When the ♥ 10 = 'Recovery' came up last time, I knew I wanted to shoot a forest recovering from a bushfire. One of the great things about Australia's sclerophyll forests is that they have evolved to cope with bushfires and, in many cases, require fire to germinate and regrow. So, while immediately after a fire, a forest area can look desolate and dead, it quickly recovers and turns green again.

Wye River

On Christmas Day 2015, Wye River, on Victoria's Great Ocean Road, suffered a devastating bushfire where more than 100 houses were destroyed. (See the story here)

The surrounding forest was also decimated but, it has regrown and is recovering so I drove along Bird Track through the affected forest area to see what I could find.

The biggest challenge was finding images that conveyed the initial loss but also the recovery so I looked for trees blackened by fire but reshooting or surrounded by regrowth of the understorey. This first shot required a 5-shot bracketed HDR to accommodate the wide dynamic range with the bright sky and dark burnt tree trunks.

 Pentax K1 with Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: 36mm, ISO 100, 1/10 second @ f/11 Circular Polariser

Pentax K1 with Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: 36mm, ISO 100, 1/10 second @ f/11
Circular Polariser

I found this burnt log surrounded by new growth. I tried reducing the depth of field with a wider aperture - just focussing on the burnt log - but it did not convey what I wanted with the regrowth so I focus-stacked the next shot, taking one shot focussing on the burnt log in the foreground and a second shot focussed on the background then blended them together in Photoshop providing the extreme depth of field required.

 Pentax K1 with Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: 48mm, ISO 100, 1 second @ f/16 Circular Polariser

Pentax K1 with Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 lens: 48mm, ISO 100, 1 second @ f/16
Circular Polariser

Further along the track, I found an area with significant regrowth of new trees starting to overgrow the old, dead trees along with a few trees with epicormic (budding directly from the bark) growth. The vantage point from a bank on the opposite side of the 4WD track got me high enough to capture the V in the dead white tree in the mid ground.

 Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 87.5mm, ISO 100, 1/4 second @ f/11

Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 87.5mm, ISO 100, 1/4 second @ f/11

I still wasn't completely happy with the shots I had but further along the track (and with just the last vestiges of light peppering through the trees) I found a location with some stark, white tree trunks and lots of green regrowth

 Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 115mm, ISO 100, 1/125 second @ f/11

Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 115mm, ISO 100, 1/125 second @ f/11

but my favourite shot of the day came right before sunset when I managed to find a dead, white tree that I could isolate against the green background. With no direct light on the scene, the colour shot looked a bit flat but black and white processing brought out the texture and contrast.

 Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 200mm, ISO 100, 0.6 seconds @ f/11

Pentax K1 with Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: 200mm, ISO 100, 0.6 seconds @ f/11

The video from this shoot can be found on my YouTube Channel

Let me know what you think in the comments below - constructive criticism and debate are always welcome.

Next up
♦ 8   Repetition