I can’t help myself. I love trees – and I try to photograph them wherever I go. I like scenes with trees that have structure, like groves of aspens. I also like gnarly trees like the California Valley Oaks. I have bark details, towering trees, leaning trees, trees in fog, trees in snow and more in my files; the list goes on.

When I made this picture in western Utah around Cedar Breaks, I was drawn to the light, not the color of the scene, which was muted golden grasses, dark green fir needles, and white aspens. I could envision this in black and white as the strong side light made the trees stand out from the background so well. In memory of Ansel Adams and other great black and white photographers, I tried to capture simply what I saw – the light and how it illuminated the stand of trees. I liked how the one tree’s branches filled in the otherwise dark space to the left of center, that was essential to me.

I finally had time to process the picture (it was made in November) and I took it into Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to process it as a black and white. I increased the structure slider a little, and ran it through the various color filters and found that I really like how the blue filter made it look. Each time I use Silver Efex Pro, I like it more and more. I used to not even think about photographing scenes that might look good in black and white, because I wasn’t up to speed on how to create a good black and white in Photoshop – my own lack of skills, not the program’s! But now, it’s a lot easier for me to get the look I want, and for the past year I’ve been seeing the potential and making many more images for later conversion to monochrome.

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