Monday, January 21, 2013

Big Cypress in black and white

Every January, I lead a beginners' overnight backpack hike for the Florida Trail Association (FTA). The chapter I belong to maintains the section of the Florida trail that begins at the I-75 rest stop (near mile marker 63) and runs north several miles. There are 3 loop trails (blue, red, and yellow) running from the main one (orange). Off the blue trail is a beautiful campsite called Carpenter Camp. It is located within a mixed pine and cypress forest that contains cypress domes and hardwood hammocks loaded with palmetto and cabbage palms.

Normally, I do not photograph with a DSLR while hiking. If I do bring it, I use it only from the campsite when I am free of the backpack and have time to wander away. This year, I decided to bring my alpha-700 (and leave the tripod home) with the intention of taking more photos while hiking as well as around the campsite. I decided to experiment in black and white this time.

Before heading out, I put the camera's "creative style" on black and white. Because I shoot in RAW format, I would not lose any color data; rather, I would simply view the photos in the LCD as black and white. Then, once downloaded into Lightroom, the photos appear with their color. The post-processing includes putting the photo back into black and white, but with total control over the data. If you shoot in jpeg, your black and white photos will remain black and white without color data.

The two days in the Big Cypress were perfect for my experiment. For the most part, the sky remained cloud-covered. This diffuses the light nicely. For a few of the photos, I noticed I had the trail marks in view. I decided to play around with that, keeping the trail mark color in post-processing. Here are a couple examples of that.

Later after setting up camp, I wandered into a hardwood hammock full of cabbage and palmetto palms. The palm leaves (living and dead) and the airplants were intriguing.  Here are a couple experiments with that (notice the blue trail mark in one photo).

While black and white was my goal, many of my photos remained in color. These were the photos shot in evening or early morning with the best light. The evening sky was filled with cloud patterns while the setting sun remained uncovered. The sweet light was irresistible on the swamp forest. Here are a few, all shot within feet of our campsite. 

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