Bivas Bhattacharjee: The Dance of Trees

 
Using ripples can add texture and another plane to your images. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Using ripples can add texture and another plane to your images. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Bivas Bhattacharjee captures a series on trees that express the poetry that sets the foliage to life and makes them dance with the flow of the cosmos.

My Assignment
Description
To capture surreal reflections of trees and plants in water.

Duration
I started shooting these images four years ago. It is a subject I keep on visiting all the time.

Notes
Observe the reflection from many angles. Waves and ripples on water create textures that add vitality to the frame.

Observing harmony in chaos has always fascinated me. There is this flow to things; even the seemingly inert. A tree grows, decays, and over a long period of time dissolves into nothingness. This flow is hidden, yet it is always present. It is this transition that I try to portray through reflections, with images being a witness to an everchanging wonder that is life.

Strong waves can create interesting patterns. Like a stairway on water. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Strong waves can create interesting patterns. Like a stairway on water. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

My Perspective
Reflections fascinate me, especially distorted forms. Static objects come to life in these reflections. A plant to me is like an allegorical reflection of my soul. Water is the base on which this reflections flow. The wind is the cosmic action setting the drama on the water into motion.

Earlier, one of my favourite subjects used to be crowds, especially if I was shooting long exposures. I liked stepping back and letting the world speed by next to me.

However, this was personally limiting and isolating. But reflections on water are rarely still. That is why I find these two otherwise different subjects rather similar. I could personally relate to the dynamic dance of the light, shadows, ripples, waves, plants and dead bushes.

High contrast postprocessing with strong colour casts can create surreal images. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

High contrast postprocessing with strong colour casts can create surreal images. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

My Equipment
I used a Nikon D800 with a Sigma 150–500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO Autofocus lens. Previously I tried using a lens with lesser zoom but I found most of my subjects are far, and to get a macro effect out of long distance shot, I needed a telephoto lens with a long range.

Sometimes, still water can give a translucent quality, which can be magical. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Sometimes, still water can give a translucent quality, which can be magical. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

The Process
Choose a water body that is flowing so that it adds movement and texture. Two to three hours after dawn and before sunset are ideal for getting the right kind of light.

It is vital to use manual focus, to shift between the planes in the reflection. I use a standard ISO of 100. However if the lighting is a little poor, I increase the ISO to a maximum of 400, but rarely beyond that. I generally shoot handheld as the unstable grip creates interesting blurs as well. However, one can also use a tripod to get varied results. I prefer to shoot in RAW as I heavily postprocess my images to get the final look.

In postprocessing I have a vision as to what my photograph will look like. Colour is a vital part of my final composition; hence I play around with tones and colours to arrive at the final frame which fits my vision.

Crisscrossing waves and ripples can create interesting textures. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Crisscrossing waves and ripples can create interesting textures. Photograph/Bivas Bhattacharjee

Tips on Shooting Surreal Reflections Of Water

  • A high shutterspeed with a shallow depth-of-field is vital to getting the balance between blurs and detail.
  • Shallow water bodies don’t work that well, as the bottom of the water-body shows through and disturbs the reflection. However, for certain compositions this too can be used.
  • See the same reflection from different angles to get the right light, wave structure and vegetation.

To view more photographs by Bivas, you can visit http://www.bivas-portfolio.com

Tags: 2014, better photography, Bivas Bhattacharjee, blurs, Nature, october, On Assignment, reflection, The Dance of Trees