I captured this image at the Pinnacle Mountain State Park visitor center. There is a scenic overlook just a short walk from the visitor center that provides a grand and sweeping view of the Arkansas River and the valley below. I had walked to the overlook hoping to find some remaining fall color to photograph. I was a little disappointed but not surprised to find the trees had mostly shed their leaves in preparation for the winter and were now awaiting the return of spring. As I turned to leave the overlook and head back home, I spotted this old tree standing tall and extending above the overlook. I was struck by the starkness of the bare trunk and limbs and by the sense of defiance demonstrated by this tree, this old dead tree, that just simply refused to fall.
The sky was overcast, and I knew that photographing the tree against the sky would let me capture the austerity of the tree and to convey the sense of rebelliousness it displayed. I also knew that the overcast sky would photograph as a very light, uniform, textureless background that would not have the dramatic look I wanted. But, I also knew I could use that uniformity to easily replace the background with a more dramatic sky, and that was exactly what I did.
I opened the image in Photoshop and made a selection of the entire sky. I then chose an image out of my collection of sky photographs and pasted the new sky the selection. I made a few more adjustments to enhance the contrast and brighten the shadow areas of the tree. Finally, I converted the image to black and white using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro to create what I feel is a more dramatic and compelling image.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 135mm, 1/60 sec, f/11