The Whispering Brook – Olympic Rainforest

The Whispering Brook, Olympic Forest, below Dosewallips Falls. Gavin Seim, Summer 2011

The water of the rainforest always seems to be moving,. Running, drizzling and dancing over the ground. Dosewallips falls rolls down a face of stone into the gathering pools below, overflowing them and running on towards into the deep forest, making a journey to the larger streams and rivers, then finally to the sea. It’s a mesmerizing dance of water set in one of the most beautiful places and is something to stop and look closer at.

We spent the past few days in the Olympic forest and as beautiful as the it is, I find it can be complicated. There’s so much to see that it can be a challenge to covey simple beauty in a single frame. Part of that challenge is deciding what element best conveys the feeling the the place when the image is initially made.

I found myself looking closely at the stream below the falls, all the rocks and paths the water had made. But I stopped in this one. It’s shape and line telling a story of waters journey in a simple scene. There’s a lot of little details here, but you have to take the time to look for them. It’s simple, but complex in it’s own way and as always, I am mesmerized the the subtle complexity and beauty of creation.

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For photographers. How it was made…

Canon 5D MK2, 70-200 2.8 L @145mm, f16, ISO200, 1/2 sec.

This one is the basis for a new preset in my Silver Shadows collection. It’s the stream below Dosewallips falls in the Olympic National forest. It’s was a great exercise in composition for me. I know I had to keep it simple to covey the beauty I wanted in this. I visualized my result, placing the water as the subject and allowing the naturally positioned rocks to complement, exposing them in zone II or III (dark greys) so as to keep the water the main focus and the rocks subdued.

In the process I worked with the preset, finding a nice balance of light and tone that was not over the top. I got it where I wanted in LR, saving this gentle process for my own Silver Shadows preset collection. Then I did a little burn and dodge in Photoshop as well. Not a lot, as it was actually good out of camera, but gentle processing can nearly always make an image better.

The crop was very interesting here, as the smallest differences in what was included changed the scene so much. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck on a scene that feels great when there in person and then and leave in elements that are actually competing with the main subject. In the original there was a lot more space to the right, a second rivulet of water flowing around the largest stone. I was about to leave it in, then cropped over. I found that the scene doubled in simplicity and though both elements were flowing water, the second, while beautiful, was only a distraction if left fully in place.

I played with the crop making tiny adjustments in various ways, going back and forth. But in the end I settled in this ratio, leaving just a little space on top, but not too empty. Then ending the image just at the edge of the large rock on the right, allowing the viewers eye to look for the gentle signs of the other waterflow and fill in the gaps as they would.

Even at a longer focal length and shutter speed, it has superb detail when zoomed in. I tuned off image stabilization and used a tripod, cable release and timer to help achieve this. In the end I am very satisfied with this image and I think it will be perfect for metal or fine art paper.


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