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Getting lost and making mistakes worked out for me, this time!


The story behind, “California Oak”. You can purchase a high-quality print here and learn the story below.

Every Spring,  Kevin and I head out to my Aunt’s and Uncle’s in Solvang. We have a great time visiting and catching up, and it’s also a time for me and my Aunt to photograph together.

On one of our trips, Kevin and I decided to take our jeep off road for a short trip up the Santa Anez mountains (well it’s really Los Padres National Forest) so I could grab a couple of quick shots for fun. It was the first time that my Aunt or Uncle wasn’t with us. I bet you can guess what happened next…yes, Kevin and I got lost!

We had no idea where we were at! When we got cell reception, I had to call my Uncle to help us get back into the valley. 🙂

The sun was beginning to set and I was getting a bit nervous because some of the roads are pretty crazy up the mountain. But…I say but, because normally I would not do this knowing we needed to get down that mountain.

As I look to the left, I saw this beautiful large California Oak.  I told Kevin we had to stop!  Instantly I fell in love with this tree.  I took a variety of shots with different exposures to get more range from darks to brights (HDR).

As I started shooting away, I didn’t realize that my ISO was way, way too high, which ended up making this image very grainy.

I was so mad when I pulled the photograph up on my computer!  I loved the tree and wanted to save the work, so I started to search around for pictures of trees on the Internet to give me ideas of how I could post-process it because I knew I would have to emphasize the grain to save the shot.

As I was searching, I found some beautiful artwork of Japanese tree paintings.  So I started playing with those types of colors to try and save the story of this grand old oak tree which stood apart from everything else.

I was inspired by this piece, can you tell?   🙂

I’m so happy to say that the influence of Japanese Art and my love for this Oaktree has brought this beautiful picture back to life.

california oak tree

I straightened the tree just a tad 🙂

This piece is part of the first set of images on Thirty9.  You can purchase this print in many mediums.  Check out the details here.  Now you have the story behind the photograph.  Just print this out after you purchase the work and let me know how you like your new piece of artwork hanging on your wall.  🙂

Janice Sullivan

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