This beautiful rugged pine grows from a crack in the cliff wall 80 feet high at a spot called Palenville Overlook at the eastern end of the Kaaterskill Clove. Accessed by route 23A, this area affords a stunning view of the Hudson Valley as well as views westward into the Clove and south along the Great Wall of Manitou. A state trailhead and parking lot are the access point at the western edge of the village of Palenville. Years before, I had photographed this same tree in color and had always intended to do it again in black and white. On this early winter day, I made the trip arriving at this point in the early afternoon as planned. My goal was to portray the tree as a living sculpture in its harsh, yet beautiful environment. I believe this tree to be much older than its small size would indicate, its 8 foot stature is maintained entirely by the elements. How it found purchase and survived in this spot using only a crack in the cliff one inch wide is a miracle of nature. Beyond the tree is a sheer drop providing the unobstructed view of the clove below that my intended image required. My intention was to depict the tree clinging to edge of the world. I set up my 8×10 camera with 210mm wide angle lens and a medium yellow filter to render the blue sky above a realistic medium gray. I toyed with the idea of using a red filter which would create far more contrast and a darker sky. In the end I chose the more subtle approach to maintain the rich shadow values that were so necessary to balance the image. I waited for over an hour as the sun grew lower and illuminated the trunk of the tree, while casting a shadow behind it on the southern wall of the Clove. With all of the elements in place, the wind began to blow! I now played a waiting game with the wind, trying to guess its patterns (much like ocean waves) in order to make my 1 second exposure at f/45 without movement. At last I succeeded and the result was one good negative and a living icon of the forest preserved forever. ©Thomas TeichClick here for reuse options!
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