Under The Banyan Tree

I am not yet shaped like  सिद्धार्थ गौतम but I still like to sit under trees seeking enlightenment.

In the local town we have a wonderful banyan tree. It dominates the small park and provides welcome shade when the mercury rises. I have had several goes at photographing the roots. If I have understood it correctly the Banyan has aerial roots that can take root when they reach the ground and form new trunks. Older trees have what are known as prop roots that grow above ground too. I am a self-confessed ignoramus on these matters so please correct me if I am wrong.

That aside, this tree has frustrated me several times. From almost every angle you have a bright dappling effect. This creates extremes of dynamic range and invariably an unsatisfactory balance. I suspect a dull day provides the best lighting conditions but then the roots lose their gorgeous, rich glow.

This is looking up into the tree:

Banyan tree

Here you see clearly the sky peeping through, the bright green of the foliage, the dark recesses of the main trunk, the mid tones of the aerial roots in the mid-ground and the foreground roots catching the mid-morning sun. Pretty tough to balance.

What I have been trying to do is capture the glow of a single strand of roots. I have experimented with various lenses and perspectives. Today I tried the 35mm F1.4 summilux lens at eye  level and used the widest aperture to isolate the front roots. This was the result:

The hanging roots of the banyan tree

Now it is not perfect but it is getting closer. I used layers (RGB 6.25% Darks) to selectively darken the background and then added a background layer using ‘overlay’ to give more luminosity. Then some dodging and burning were added to tone down areas that were still on the hot side and lift some of the shady zones.

I would truly appreciate advice on how I might tackle this better / differently.

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