Birch Tree

A montage of a birch tree – nothing more, nothing less

The Background

After many months of shooting beautiful photos of boring stories that weren’t inspiring me anymore, I decided to return to my first love, filmmaking.  Earlier in my career, I was the DP for a video production company shooting hundreds of documentaries.  The tools back then were great, but the image quality was never as good as photographs.  Though the tools available to me now were merely a 720p-capable Nikon, I figured the quality of the lenses and size of the sensor would be great for capturing something that I would like to look at.

The Concept

Vignette (vi·gnette) [vin-yet] – noun

    1. A decorative design or small illustration used on the title page of a book.
    2. An engraving, drawing or photograph shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definitive line at the border.
    3. A decorative design representing branches, leaves, grapes or the like, as in a manuscript.
    4. Any small, pleasing picture or view
    5. A small, graceful literary sketch.

These definitions, when you think about it, are some of the most liberating reasons to make something beautiful.  What narrative story is needed other than to explore something wonderful placed in beautiful light.

There is an editing routine known as a “montage of attractions”, or, many views of the same object or subject.  This was what I planned to shoot.

The Execution

This video really came together in the editing.  While at the shoot, I tried to get as many detail shots as possible of the tree.  I then moved out to the surroundings of the tree to place it in its environment.  I specifically chose music that I could use with some of the frenetic movement of the grass and other elements.  Piano is always good for that mixing fast finger movements while the melody of the song has more of a floating feeling.

A friend of mine described a connection between the age of the tree and the age of the modern temple in the background.  They described that it had a lot of feeling for them.  It wasn’t my intention to make that connection, but I think it is a legitimate read of the editing.  That’s the nice thing about a vignette.  Everyone can bring something to the table.


Nikon D3S

Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Edited and color graded in Photoshop CS6

Music is “The Time to Run (Finale)”
by Dexter Britain