Photoessay: the monochrome Nilgiris

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I was having a discussion about the presentation of landscape and color use the other day with one of my students – which in turn got me thinking about why we see so few modern landscapes that work in monochrome, typically unless the shooter is trying to imitate Ansel. My theory is that it’s much, much harder to make a compelling image of nature without color – there is the tendency for the scene to look dead, rather than vibrant and alive. You also lose all of the delicate color gradients in skies and the like – which further deadens the scene. But as with all monochrome, surely we could also use these properties to imply a sense of timelessness, surreality or detachment?

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Photoessay: Forests of the Nilgiris

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Today’s post is a little sampling of the forests in the Nilgiri mountains in India – with quite a range of altitude, you get a wide range of flora from tropical to almost alpine and trees clinging to sides of steep escarpments, in places transitioning into tea plantations – complete with tigers, elephants and other wildlife to match (which also rendered large areas off limits – both for reasons of wildlife and human-life preservation). We didn’t encounter any of those, but we did spend quite a bit of time traveling through the predominantly montane forest. I of course also continued the Forest project of gigapixel-plus stitches, which I’ll probably never show digitally – the effect is completely lost. Nevertheless, I’ve always found forests to be very relaxing and tranquil places – and I hope the effect carries through on screen, even though digital media isn’t the best way of reproducing a fractal subject. What should of course carry through is the tonal palette – I’m pleased because this is about the closest I’ve gotten so far to almost full transparency, thanks to the CFV-50C. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Hasselblad 501CM, CFV-50C digital back and a variety of lenses, and post processed with PS Workflow II.

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