Oak Jubilee

Oak Jubilee

20×24 prints are $1,250
30×40 prints are $2,500

At the beginning of fall in 1996 I went on a two day photo excursion to southern Oregon. The autumn colors were just beginning to appear and I had a burning desire to get out and see if I could find a worthwhile photograph.

I saw this image as I was driving back from the coast along the winding highway that was still at a low elevation before it started climbing over the Coast Range. It was one of those moments that as I passed by this tree I caught a fleeting glimpse of it and immediately knew it would make a photograph. I had to find a place to turn around, came back and parked on the shoulder of the road.

The colors and tones were remarkable and this was the only tree within miles that had such color and visual interest. However even though the light was soft, the overall contrast was high due to the dark oak trunk. I exposed one piece of film with my 300mm lens at f/64 for one second on Velvia 50 film. Fortunately there was no wind so all the leaves are very sharp.

When I examined the processed film the contrast was very high as I expected. I did not want to make a print that made the very dark trunk pitch black but if I reduced the contrast enough to show the detail in the trunk it would flatten all the contrast in the colored leaves. In 1996 it was an unsurmountable difficulty.

The image had to wait 21 years until 2017 when I was finally willing to tackle it. I spent several days working on it and needed to print it with a combination of two separate contrast masks on it, each one precisely exposed and developed to very critical values. Given the wide range of colors in the image it nevertheless requires an extremely precise overall color balance for the colors to interact properly to bring the image to life. And not surprisingly, there are some parts of the image that require dodging which has to be accurate to within a fraction of a second.

The final Cibachrome prints needed a title that expressed the wild, exuberant feeling that the image conveys to me, thus the title Oak Jubilee.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: Oregon
Reference key: oj