New Growth Springs From Old Growth
One of the coolest things I’ve ever photographed was shot in 1993 on Cortez Island, British Columbia, a tiny island about half-way up the east coast of Vancouver Island. I was on an outdoor adventure in an old growth forest, and I mean really old; hundreds of years old. I photographed a giant Cedar, about 8 feet in diameter, with a young Cedar sapling growing in front at the base of the old tree. I titled the shot New Growth Springs From Old Growth.
I shot the photo with Kodak Plus-X panchromatic black and white film. Remember that??? This was in the early 1990’s when my serious photo enthusiasm was taking off and I had a home black and white darkroom in my spare bathroom. You know, film, enlarger, paper in a framing easel, developer, stop bath, fixer, and eagerly watching under the red-amber glow of a safelight…
New Growth Springs From Old Growth was one of the most exciting photos whose latent image I had the joy to witness appear before my eyes under the safelight in the developer tray. I will never forget seeing the photo come to life! As the trees took shape on the paper, I knew I had created something which truly captured the essence of what I’d felt in that old growth forest in British Columbia.
I have a black and white 11×14 matted and framed enlargement of New Growth Springs From Old Growth hanging in my living room as part of a collection of eight favorite old black & white 11×14 enlargements. This particular photograph is one of my greatest inspirations to this day. The metaphor it represents applies to every area of my life, reminding me that new growth springs from the roots and foundation of our old growth. This is the case with all of my growth, not the least of which has been my growth as a photographer.
I applied that metaphor tonight to growing as a photographer. Since the only digital file I have of this photograph is a scanned copy of a 5×7 print, it was not exactly web display quality, but I decided to use this black & white scan to improve my learning curve with Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro2. While it obviously still is not exhibition quality, here is a glimpse of how it looked before, shown with my reworked version directly below it, to show you how much I was able to improve it with Silver Efex Pro2:
To achieve the new version, I used Silver Efex Pro2 and applied global adjustments to brightness, contrast, and structure; selective adjustments to several control points to tone down blown out highlights; added sepia toner #19; added a rectangular vignette, burned edges and image borders, playing around with the size and roughness and using the “Vary” button until I had a border I liked. Last, I added my digital As Seen by Janine signature in Photoshop CS5. I ended up with the bottom of the two images above, which for a blurry scan of a nearly 19 year old 5×7 print, came out fairly pleasing. Far better than I anticipated possible.
The original black and white 35mm film shot of New Growth Spring From Old Growth was taken on June 23, 1993. Here I am nearly 19 years later and this image is still bringing growth to me, both as a person and as a photographer. That is why I consider this one of the coolest and most inspirational photos I’ve ever taken.
As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images