Old Ghosts (Reprise)

I’m not entirely sure how many Spanish moss posts I’ve done, but I know it’s been many so instead of numbering I had to tab this as simply a reprise. When I took up photography in what is popular tabbed as “a more serious” manner, Spanish moss was one of my first subjects of interest. Besides being in abundance, I’ve always been drawn to its natural charm of old, heavy, languid and sedative. William Faulkner aptly coined it “the garland of the South” or something to that effect. When I first started photographing moss I had many instant deletions and ultimately chalked them up to inexperience. I know realize what a difficult subject it is to photograph. For starters, the moss is basically a light grey and for that reason, will wreck havoc on evaluative exposure meters. It is also sequesters strong luminance and will morph frenetically in color depending on lighting conditions. Coupled with dark branches and usually shaded areas where you find it, the dynamic range is off the charts. Bracketing exposures only helps in rare situations as the slightest breeze invites wide movement. This set was taken in late summer and early in the morning. The humidity was high and with little wind. With the mosquitoes it was a bit insufferable but it is your best chance at getting best light.  All of these were taken at bigger apertures from 2.8 to a max of 5.6, and with the fastest shutter speed you can get away with. The moss ends up being in layers and while it is tempting to stop down to catch everything, the photos can become a bit busy. I find it better to shoot a string of moss parallel to the camera at the wider aperture so you can separate it away from everything surrounding the plane. The photograph below exemplifies this a bit, but was shot at f4.0 to make sure I caught all the sunlit bugs that were harassing me.

I had then also switched to another tree and the angle the lighting had shifted, but I liked how it milked out in the humidity. The shots below were from the same outing but focused at getting more isolated style shots with the last also going for some minimalism.

8 thoughts on “Old Ghosts (Reprise)

  1. Great shots. The backgrounds you’ve chose really complement the subject matter and the light is gorgeous. This stuff does seem very photogenic, supposing you get the right conditions. We don’t really get it in England, at least not to my knowledge.

  2. The third image is stunning, absolutely love it! I remember when I first came to your blog you had just posted some Garland of the South images and I was captivated, really wish we had some here. Perhaps a visit is in order next year, hhmmmm….

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