One of the things I routinely like to photograph is tree bark. It offers such variety in texture, color, and scale. Bark is ever-changing and you can capture really great images all year long, in all kinds of weather conditions.
There so much variety in bark — the peeling, the cracking, the swirling patterns, smooth and rough patches, intersecting veins, and the amazing colors when the light hits it just right.
The tree was a dual-trunked specimen and it split in two, with each half falling in opposite directions. It has been amazing to revisit this tree to view the changes, the decomposition, the fungus, and the new weathering bark and wood patterns that have developed. Now, several years later, I’m still finding new, intriguing sections to photograph.
Since I always shoot macro and close-up images, another great advantage to photographing bark is that you can shoot in any wind conditions. Unheard of for macro! (If that bark is waving in the wind then you’ve got bigger problems than just getting a great shot!)
Here are a few tips and things for you to try when photographing bark.
- Get close so you don’t see the edge of the trunk or branch.
- A small aperture (a deep depth of focus) is best to capture all the details.
- Examine the tree to find the most interesting spots that create an intricate design or pattern — bark patterns make great abstracts.
- Lighting makes a huge difference — try a cloudy day to eliminate shadows or a sunny day when the sun is at the perfect angle to light the bark with highlights and shadows.
- Bark is also interesting in the rain with the drips and spots forming patterns. You can also use a spray bottle to wet the bark; don’t expect to get fun water drops, though, just wetness.
- Try changing your white balance settings — manually or with the pre-sets — you’ll see dramatic changes in the color the bark renders in. Ooooooooo, Artsy-Fartsy.
Speaking of all things bark — this month at the Workhouse Art Center you can see my un-official showing All About the Bark. I have images of: Chinese Elm, River Birch, Royal Palm, the afore-mentioned fallen tree, and more. Hope you drop by for a visit, now through October 2nd.
Thank You for visiting,
P.s. What’s your favorite subject matter? Why do you find this subject to be so interesting? What difficulties to shooting does it present? Share with us, we’d love to hear about your experiences.