...and decided to take some pictures near the Tree of Life.
Most people believe that architectural photography techniques can only be used for shooting buildings. That is not the case at all! There are plenty of situations and instances wherein you can incorporate architectural photography techniques to come up with a stunning image even if it is not of a building. Photography, as much as it’s about technique, has also a lot to do with passion.
I would want to point out on one specific photograph which I took recently wherein I used several architectural photography techniques to produce one great picture. I just got married to an amazing woman and together we decided to visit the Tree of Life in Bahrain. The lens I used to capture this image was a Canon 24mm Tilt Shift Lens. This picture is special to me because it has merged into one frame all of the things that matter to me the most at this point in my life: photography and my wife. I would want to share with you the technical aspects which led to this photo and the back story as well.
This image of the tree of life is a total of four images merged into one picture. The top image is a long exposure of the sky. The tree image was taken in two shots both long exposed and I walked around and used several flash pops to light it up. The bottom image was then taken last with both of us together in the frame with two lights on either side of us. I used an iPad and Camranger to trigger both flashes to expose us. All four images were then edited and merged together using Photoshop and due to the tilt shift lens there is zero to minimum distortion. Besides the technical stuff, the story that led up to this picture is definitely worth sharing.
Since we just got married, my wife and I wanted to do something interesting that we would remember for years to come. Our trip to Bahrain certainly did not disappoint in that department! During our trip to Bahrain, I asked our driver to drive us to the famous tree of life. He declined for obvious reasons but we were eventually able to persuade him after I told him about my reasons for wanting to see the tree of life. We took off and drove through the dirt tracks that led to the tree of life. In all honesty, it was quite scary and we were all nervous as we drove in the darkness and knowing that what we were doing is strictly prohibited. I guess it’s both my determination to execute the shoot and the thrill of it all that made me do it. Our driver informed us that he would not be able to drive closer to where the tree is. Instead, he would stay outside and wait for us.
So on we went to the tree. My wife and I took our equipment and walked towards the tree of life. I really did want to try out the techniques I had in my mind. I did an extensive research on the location prior to visiting it so I knew right away what to do and where to set up my equipment. Google Maps was a big help during the entire research process. Pro tip: Conducting a thorough research before shooting is a tremendous help because it will extensively cut the time that you have to use in setting up and planning. If you want to shoot in a location that is unfamiliar to you, researching ahead of time will give you a better picture and a clearer idea of what you should expect once you are on site. For this shoot, I specifically intended to use all of my expertise in architectural photography to get that perfect shot of the tree of life.
Once we got close to the tree, I immediately placed the camera on a tripod and started on getting the first image. The first image we took was that of the sky. I strategically shifted my camera’s lens slightly upwards to get a great shot of the sky. When we got the shot that we were looking for, we moved on to the next and most important element of the picture. The second section was that of the tree of life itself. The second one is quite tricky because the area where the tree was located was pitch black.
I had to use my camranger and had the flash triggered by my iPad. I then walked around the tree trying to light it up section by section while controlling the camera with my iPad and camranger. The camranger was a great help in ensuring that the camera does not move. The slightest movement can cause significant damage to the alignment of the final photograph.
A little while into the whole process and we noticed military personnel approaching us. By this time we had finished the shoot and were in the middle of packing the equipment away. They asked us about what we were doing and where we were from. I informed the officers that we are British citizens and were only there to photograph the tree. Although we knew ahead of time what we were going to do is illegal we acted oblivious to this, as they say it’s always easier to apologise later (if there is a later). It turns out that they had been watching our movements for an hour or so and created a perimeter around us, awaiting next orders. With the assumption that we were acting suspiciously they sent in a party to our location which was probably the most intimidating thing we’ve had to experience. Thankfully, after a round of questions and quick search, they figured we were telling the truth and allowed us to continue on our way, but not without a warning of course. I’m glad we were able to get out of that situation unscathed and achieve what we went there for.