Survivors – Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument

Survivors – Gavin Seim, 2012. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington State.

Oddly it was the first time I had been to St. Helens. A remote park and does not get as much attention as it deserves. My brother and I spent a few days up there filming for my EXposed light workshop and of course, hunting for landscapes.

This place astounds my eyes. Not for it’s serene perfection. But for it’s lack of it. A forest picked up, as by God himself and scattered across the landscape like toothpicks. Some areas have no trees standing. Others have new growth coming back with vigor. And here, the skeletons of the past still stand proud, having survived May 18, 1980, when Mount St. Helens erupted and blew down or scorched 230 square miles of forest.

There are many remarkable stories from that day. And if you live in the Pacific Northwest you may know some of the people that experienced them. But to me these trees still standing, are a reminder and the awesome power in creation and of the valiant effort to stand your ground. They will make a beautiful print… Gavin

Release details: Prints Available.. Order Open Edition originals.. Master prints and Signature Limited Editions are listed below and can be ordered by contacting gallery.

Released prints….

For Photographers. How it was made…

Technical Notes: Canon MK2, 17-40L @20mm, f11, 1/400, ISO160, Induro Tripod
Lightroom 4, Photoshop, Seim Effects tools.

It’s late morning and the sun is popping in and out of these amazing clouds, giving an unusually balanced light for this time of day. I had just recorded a clip on working with burn and dodge for EXposed. Wanting to have an example image and admiring these tall trees, I setup on the cement barriers and just took my time. I studied perspective, focus and tone placing values in such a way that I could attain a rich contrast without any clipping in the whites of the sky or in the overall shadows. In doing this I kept the highlights of the trees in the Zone 7-8 range. There a few spots in the sky that reach up to around nine.

My exposure was spot on, so the process was a matter of Lighroom adjustments. Using presets and manual tweaks and then moving into Photoshop for some detail work. Mainly I just did a bit if burn and dodge on the trees and sky. Making sure the balance of light and dark was how I wanted and bringing our rich contrasts in the wood. Back in LR I did a few final details and sharpening before calling it. It was one of those scene where the light really conveyed a good feel and it just had to be exposed well to make it sing.



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