Thomas Teich-Weathered pine, cliff edge, Kaaterskill Clove

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. Weathered pine, cliff edge, Kaaterskill Clove. Thomas TeichOn 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 Teich

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