Silver Maple and Rock Wall

Silver Maple and Rock Wall

20×24 prints are $2,000
30×40 prints are $4,000

In March of 1987 I drove from Oregon to Connecticut for a three month job, photographing along the way with my 8×10 camera. As part of that journey I traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first time.

This photograph was made with my camera set up right in the middle of the road. The traffic was light but nevertheless I had to pick up and move my camera and tripod three times before I was able to make this photograph. I’d put a penny on the road to mark my spot but would have to recompose the image each time.

I was drawn to this scene by the glow in the silver maple trunks and branches and the visual interaction between the tree and the rock wall. This was the first of what would be many images where the photograph has a complex interaction between two (sometimes three) visual layers in a fugue-like composition.

In this case I wanted to keep the two layers slightly separated to prevent them from getting visually tangled together. The tree and branches are perfectly focused but the rock wall is very slightly soft, not enough to be obvious, just enough so the tree is visually separated as if the rock wall were a painted backdrop. It’s a good thing this effect was desired since there wasn’t enough depth of field possible with the lens I was using at that relatively close distance to get the background sharper.

I used a 24” Red Dot Artar lens at f/64 for one second on Fujichrome 100 film, only one expo-sure was made. The image has always been a bit of a challenge to print. A delicate balance is required in order to preserve the luminosity of the tree, which has a narrow tonal range which needs sufficient contrast to separate the tonal values, but not too much contrast that the rock wall visually overwhelms the tree.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: Virginia
Reference key: smrw