Theatre of Chaos

From the bold, classic lines of silhouetted Pine trees in my previous post from Blackdown (click here to view) to the chaotic jungle of the deciduous woodland that cloaks the lower slopes of Blackdown.

I have noticed that much of the woodland in Sussex and neighbouring areas has a chaotic structure to it – the woods are un-tamed, trees remain where they fall. The undergrowth is unchecked. Nature has run riot.

Photographically it presents challenges: how to find compositions amongst this chaos. This is a preliminary attempt – finding bleached and leafless branches that catch the light and stream haphazardly across the frame.

In colour, on a dull day, the minimalist hues introduce a coldness to the scene. A conversion to B&W takes that coldness one step further and a subtle re-working of the tonal range emphasises the tracery in the foreground.

Which works best? Do add a comment. Click on either image to see a higher quality enlargement.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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15 Responses to Theatre of Chaos

  1. shoreacres says:

    It occurs to me that one person’s chaos may be another’s pleasing complexity. I think that’s why I prefer the first image. Rather than drawing attention to the foreground, it draws my eye through several layers: four, certainly, and maybe even five. The first image makes me want to go exploring; the second seems to say, “Keep Out!”

    • LensScaper says:

      That’s a fascinating observation, Linda. I think you have hit on one of the strengths of colour, that perhaps we overlook: that it can add depth. Usually the B&W conversions I create are clear-cut – this one I was not sure of. I like the drama of it but I feel it is ‘cold’, perhaps too cold and un-emotional – a good quality in some images but perhaps not suited here. I’m looking forward to reading what others think. Complexity is a better word than chaos perhaps as it suggests a natural evolution, although looking around in other areas of this woodland one might have wondered if ‘Bigfoot’ had trampled through, casting trees aside, and that did seem rather chaotic.

  2. I agree with shoreacres about more depth being apparent in the color version. This is so obvious that I hesitate to say it, but the color version has more reality to it, and that to me is its own virtue. I do like the more abstract B&W version for all its lines, but forced to choose, I choose the color version. I do have one nit to pick in the color version, though. The blue-green foliage at the bottom of the picture plane, right of center, would not distract me if it were moved more into the yellow-green range or (gasp!) cloned out.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda. The consensus is growing the the colour version is the better of the two. I see your point about the green foliage. I cropped the bottom of the image as far as I could removing a lot more of the blue-green foliage and an unsightly fallen log.

  3. Heide says:

    I’m going to be a contrarian and say I like the BW version better because for me it better emphasizes the texture and the shapes of the foliage. But perhaps that’s just my unconscious bias for black-and-white fine art nature photography rearing its head! Either way, its lovely — though I wouldn’t want to have to wander through that thicket. 😉

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Heide. I am a B&W lover too so I naturally experiment with B&W conversions. Most responses are in favour of the colour version and I’m coming round to the idea that in this case the colour one does work better. Re-visiting an image after 24hrs sometimes alters one’s perceptions of what works best.

      • Heide says:

        I agree that revisiting images often gives you better perspective, Andy — it helps you distinguish between what you *meant* to say and what you *actually* said, doesn’t it. Well, whether in BW or color, it’s still lovely.

  4. Meanderer says:

    It’s a beautiful scene. I definitely prefer the colour version. As others have said, it has depth which is lost on the mono version, which appears very flat. Also the white branches stand out more in the colour image. The greys, whites, and greens appeal to me very much.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Meanderer. I’m coming round to the colour version myself as being the better of the two. Sometimes a little bit of colour punches way above its weight, and this I think is an example of that concept.

  5. oneowner says:

    I also pick the color version. I think the black and white needs a boost in contrast (just a bit). I’d try to push the greens a bit darker, as well. The photo will appear more abstract, though, and I’m sure there are those that would disapprove of that. But after following you for quite a while, I don’t think that the abstraction would be unsettling for you.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken – this has been an interesting debate thus far. I will experiment with the tones and colours a bit more. I’m coming round to the thinking that this is an example of an image where the colour, although very muted, is actually more important than first thought.

  6. Chillbrook says:

    I’m on the side of the black and white version Andy! It seems to me the abstract nature of the scene is emphasised when some of the clues as to what exactly we’re looking at are removed, the colour of the moss etc, and this I like very much. 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. As with a lot of B&W conversions, the image has a different ‘feel’ to it and the emphasis is shifted. When I saw this scene my immediate thought was: this could look good in B&W; but I can see why a number of commentators feel that the colour version is better. This is perhaps one of those images that mature over time.

  7. Even though there’s not much colour to be had, I still prefer it. Just adds a little extra something. 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Frank. The majority opinion favours the colour version and I think that is right. A small amount of colour can have a surprisingly important impact.

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