Fangorn (Sindarin: [Fangaorne]; “Beardtree”) in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium, is a forest located in the fictional world of Middle-earth and is the home of the tree shepherds, the Ents. It is named after the oldest Ent, Treebeard or Treebeard after it. [wikipedia]

It pains me to tell my fellow Californians, but a little over a week ago I was transplanted from sunny southern California to the moist and green Pacific Northwest, Seattle to be specific. My research advisor decided to move to the University of Washington (from Caltech) for a variety of reasons so over the past few months the rest of our lab has slowly made the transition. I will dearly miss the deserts, the sierra, the rolling hills, and of course the sun, but I am determined to learn to love the rain. I will no doubt be back frequently, but from now on most of my imagery will be coming from Washington State. Fortunately there is no shortage of incredible places to explore here, and I took the first opportunity I had to head out to the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula.

click image for larger view!

"Spirit of the Hoh" ~ Hoh Rainforest, Olympic NP, WA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, polarizer, tripod, umbrella
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 10 sec
Notes: This is a 4 image panoramic stitch, using PT-Gui for stitching. In order to add some more depth to the image I slightly enhanced the low contrast misty atmosphere and added a slight blue cast.

The temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park are a truly incredible place. There, in the densest jungle of the world (as measured by biomass per cubic meter), you can breath the cleanest air available on the continent and relax in the quietest place in the continental US. It is so quiet in fact, that on the rare occasions that you do hear an airplane, it will startle you! There is even an organization set up to preserve that silence: One Square Inch of Silence. I had been to the Hoh twice before, and knew it would be a real challenge to photograph. Everything here is either green, or covered in green mosses and ferns. It is a chaotic mess of green, yet so thrillingly beautiful. It’s like walking straight into any number of forest fairy-tales, I would be surprised if it has not been an inspiration to many of them.

click image for larger view!

"Green" ~ Hoh Rainforest, Olympic NP, WA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 70-200mm, polarizer, tripod, umbrella
Exposure: iso 200, f/14, 6 sec
Notes: This is a blend of two images taken at different focus settings merged with Helicon Focus to increase the depth of field. I used the LAB color mode in photoshop to separate the green tones to increase the color depth.

The challenge doesn’t end with the compositions either. I found processing the images from here to be incredibly difficult. It was almost like processing sandstone abstracts, with one major difference: the color palette here is green, not red. The human eye is most sensitive to green, so it is easy to make things look unnatural (incidentally, this is why traditional RGB camera sensors have 2 green pixels for ever pair of red and blue ones). An important tool for creating depth and mood in images is white balance. With most scenes you can add surprisingly heavy casts of warm, cool, or even magenta tones to create depth and mood without it looking entirely unnatural. The margin for change when it comes to greens, however, is much smaller. But in an image composed nearly entirely of green, you need to create some separation–some transitions–somehow. This is one of the few places where I’ve found the LAB color mode in photoshop to be by far the easiest way to get that kind of control. Given the delicate nature of greens, it really helps to view these images in a color aware browser (such as Safari), and on a calibrated monitor where possible, otherwise the colors may come across as too saturated or the contrasts too flat.

click image for larger view!

"Treebeards" ~ Hoh Rainforest, Olympic NP, WA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 70-200mm, polarizer, tripod, umbrella
Exposure: iso 200, f/16, 3.2 sec
Notes: This is a blend of three images taken at different focus settings merged with Helicon Focus to increase the depth of field. I used the LAB color mode in photoshop to separate the green tones to increase the color depth.

I hope all my California readers still stick around, despite my moving north. After all, you know a periodic dose of greenery is good for you!

Edit – here are some images from more recent trips.

Barred Owl, Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington,

Barred Owl : Prints Available

A Barred Owl poses amongst the greenery of the Hoh Rainforest in Washington's Olympic National Park. 

Moss, Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington, vine maples

Mossy Embrace : Prints Available

Spring vine maples covered in mosses in the Hoh River Rainforest of Washington's Olympic National Park. 

Mossy Maple Trees, Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington, spring, green, moss

Verdancy : Prints Available

Mossy covered vine maples and big leaf maples in the Hoh River Rainforest of Washington's Olympic National Park in spring.   

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11 Comments to “Welcome to Fanghorn”

  1. Absolutely gorgeous. I love the beard shot the best. Carol

  2. Floris says:

    Thanks Carol! That’s my favorite from the outing as well 🙂

  3. Kent says:

    Now that you’re in the neighborhood, you’ll have to swing by Juneau sometime soon. Good work getting out in the wet and making some excellent images.

  4. Thanks Kent – I absolutely plan to make it to Alaska in the near future, and will definitely look you up! Your ice images are just outstanding.. would love to see some of those places myself!

  5. Ariel says:

    Oh dude, welcome to Seattle, Floris! I unexpectedly wound up here as well, also here in the U District near UW. Let’s grab a coffee sometime. 🙂

    You’ve come at a pretty nice time. It’s starting to get sunnier, the days are getting progressively longer, and people are starting to wake back up out of their wintertime slumber. I’ve only been here for two months now and I can already see and feel a difference. 🙂

  6. Ariel says:

    Lots of people here seem to complain about the rain but I’m actually really enjoying it. Perhaps it’ll be similar for you. To me it’s very refreshing, so nourishing and enriching… things smell so fresh and feel so alive. You probably know this even better than I but I’m finding the sunsets up here in the NW to be unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the country. It was only when I arrived here that it started to dawn on me how it was even possible for Marc to get some of the shots that he was getting. 😀

    It definitely is a change from the diversity of landscapes of CA, that’s for sure, but it seems like it offers many whole new worlds, many of them pretty incredible.

  7. Richard says:

    Floris,

    Good luck in your new home up north. I am sure we will see many fantastic images from you as you explore your new land of photo opportunities.

  8. Chris Kayler says:

    Hi Floris,

    Wish I could have joined you guys up there. You came away with some awesome stuff. Love the first post, as well as “green”.

    Nice!

  9. Great set of images Floris. Just loved those greens and the mod in the images. Excellent execution on the processing part as well. Being in India and a frequent traveler to Western Ghats here I know how difficult it is to process the images involving forest. The results that you have achieved is simply marvelous and the tonalities are amazing. Loved the first image very much.
    Looks like a scene from Pandora world of Avtar!

  10. Great website and inspirational writing. I look forward to seeing more of your work! Just lovely!

  11. […] I recently wrote about a trip to the rainforest (see: Welcome to Fanghorn) I won’t repeat all the details.. but recall that this magical forest is the quietest place […]