These are not my bamboo plants – they belong to my wife. But I’m the one who chats to them, waters them and feeds them. They’ve grown really tall, and when the wind blows across the garden they lean right over and sway around. I love listening to the sound of their dry leaves brushing together – it sounds like the sea – and watching the sun sparkle as the canes and leaves alternately block it and then let it through.
For this shot I wanted to capture the movement of the leaves and the canes on a windy day. It doesn’t take much wind to make them move, but as they are quite rigid, and they block the wind as well as dance in it, some parts of the plant move more than others. It seemed silly to shot on a tripod when capturing movement like this, so I shot hand-held and made the most of the freedom to try lots of different angles.
As it was a bright day, I needed a small aperture to get a shutter speed long enough to show the movement. In the end I settled on f/16 and shutter speeds of around 1/15sec. The shutter opening was enough to show the movement in some areas and a degree of sharpness in others, which then allows the picture to explain more clearly what was going on. The leaves, which were fluttering very quickly, have become very blurred, but the gently swaying canes are quite well defined.
I shot in colour, but knowing that I would convert to black and white afterwards. I wanted to use a green filter to lighten the leaves and to create contrast with the darker canes, but a physical glass filter would have created too much flare – I was shooting into the light.
I converted the picture to black and white via channel mixer – using just the green channel – and then toned it with this china blue colour. To do this I converted the RGB file to greyscale, and then made it a duotone. I’m not too bothered what colour I choose in Duotone mode, as I always adjust the colour and saturation once the file is converted back to RGB.
Once it was done I went into Levels and moved the highlight output levels to 252 from 255. That just takes the edge off the white background and reduces the contrast a touch
It’s pointless to add sharpening to such a soft image – so I didn’t.
If you want to use this same grey/blue for a duotone click the selected colour in the ‘Ink 2’ box and then type bdc6cb into the hex colour box that sits at the bottom of the ‘Color Picker’ window. The hex color box is the one with a # (hash symbol) next to it.