Saturday, 15 May 2010

New Heights

I knew that, on the way to do the weekly grocery shop today, I would pass that oddly Japanese field of bamboo canes, and that more than likely it would be even fuller than last week. Having long ago learned that chance favours the prepared, I fitted my 70-300 telephoto lens to the Canon 450D, and had it next to me on the car passenger seat.

I was right. The spectacle of hundreds of bamboo teepees receding into the distance on a sea of polythene was quite something. I knew that the telephoto would compress the perspective nicely. But what I also needed to come away with a decent image was height. Several large format photographers have shared their trade secret with me -- a ridiculously large tripod and a portable ladder. That bit of elevation will separate out the elements of a landscape better than any lens.

So, I stayed on the roadside bank and climbed a little way into a convenient tree, ignoring the impudent car horns passing by at speed. Et voilĂ !



Obviously, you don't want to take a tripod up a tree, but with an image-stabilized zoom who needs one anyway? Having got exactly what I had hoped for, I went back to the car and carried on to the supermarket. Job done!

13 comments:

Martin H. said...

In fact, the sight of these canes is so weird, it's in danger of becoming a distraction for motorists.

You've captured the weirdness well.

Jack Nelson said...

Several times I've climbed up on top of my car and stood on the roof rack to get a shot. Ansel Adams had a platform on top of his vehicle where he would set up his tripod.

seany said...

Mike, you've surpassed yourself here I really like this image, it was well worth the effort on your part in climbing the tree to get the perspective right.

Mike C. said...

"Effort" is the word, seany... I used to spend half my waking hours climbing trees as a kid, but now I'm an overweight man in his mid 50s trying to get a few feet into a tree is not a simple matter. It's not often I feel so much like I've earned a picture ...

Mike

Dave Leeke said...

Fanatstic photo Mike - the word verification is "mingshik" - it somehow seems to fit.

Kent Wiley said...

Well done, Mike. Cool pic. How convenient that you had a tree in the right place. The hell w/ the large tripod: I bolt my Gitzo head to a tall step ladder that's already set up with a stiffened top and slap the Linhof on the head and manage about an extra 8 feet. But I'm still dreaming about one of these...

sEAN bENTLEY said...

Nice shot, and well worth the effort and ingenuity!

Struan said...

I'm going to be contrary - I prefer the original glimpse with the (bramble?) hedge in the foreground. It's an instinctive preference, but I think it derives from the sense of stumbling across something special. This version is too pure, too close to a 'patterns in nature' stock image.

I know, I'm inconsistent :-)

Mike C. said...

Kent,

Funnily enough, I've been admiring one of those out my office window for the past two weeks, as contractors strip down and repaint the window-frames of the library. I keep waiting for the operator to overdo the horizontal shift and crash through into a reading room...

They've clearly rented the thing, as one of the guys got stuck forty feet in the air and had to call for help. I'm pretty sure his mates down on the ground slightly overdid the head-scratching over the manual in order to wind him up...

I love the idea of the tripodized stepladder!

Mike

Mike C. said...

Struan,

Actually, I agree.

What I'd really have liked to do would have been to stop the car in the middle of the road, climb on the roof (this is in theory -- I doubt you could safely stand on the roof of a Renault Scenic) and get both the hedge and the cloches in the same shot, but with clearer separation. However, I can see the accident report now ... ("He did what?").

But, yes, for me it does have the feel of a camera club competition entry, and thus offends my inner black-clad artist. But he's so easily offended!

Mike

Struan said...

All you need is a double decker bus, an accomplice with a whistle, and a flock of sheep.

Mike C. said...

Hmm, an open-topped bus might be quite a good investment...

Something I forgot to say in the post was the way in which the elevated view from a train carriage (or indeed the top deck of a bus) transforms the landscape by opening it up and revealing its secrets. A car journey is never the same.

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Mike, I thought you were going to say you had asked to borrow the lift to drive around campus. But probably that "black-clad artist" wouldn't be seen anywhere near such a thing.