Eliot Porter, a study in green
That's not really the title of the photograph, a study in green, but essentially that's what it is. This sounds quite simple - a photographer known for his woodland work makes a picture with lots of green in it. But it's not so simple, at least not for someone like me who has spent hours post-processing images of woodlands in order to balance the almost infinite hues, tints, shades and tones of green.
I'm looking at some species of conifer, a sapling, just left of centre and in the foreground, with bright lime green turning-to-white flourishes of needles, like a dancer's pompoms in an impressionist painting. These are met at the top of the trunk by the leaves of another sapling, deciduous this time, just to the right. They're so bright they could be electric fairy lights. Then a few dapples of the same green on the forest floor and off to the right. From there the rest of the composition is quite simple. Everything recedes into darker green, except for one notable feature - a grey trunk just behind the conifer sapling, almost dead centre. It might be a birch. There are no branches visible so it's just like the one in my garden where the branches start half way up the trunk. It seems to break every rule in the composition book yet it holds the photograph together.
I know that Porter took time over his dye transfer prints and I also know that green can be problematic with respect to exposure, especially under direct light. I might be mistaken but I doubt it would be possible to achieve this kind of colour balance and harmony in the digital realm. Of course I'd love to be proved wrong because then I could buy that printer.
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