November One Photo Focus

On the first Friday of each month in the US, first Saturday in Australia, Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing hosts an interesting challenge: the One Photo Focus.  This is a photo editing project whereby all participants interpret the same image.  This month we are all working on a photo submitted by Helen Chen – HHC Blog: the Anping Treehouse in Tainan, Taiwan.

November Image


In Helen’s words “it is a cool fusion of nature and man-made structures intertwined with one another.”  The Anping Treehouse is a large banyan tree that over some 70 years has literally swallowed an old warehouse that once belonged to Tait & Co Merchant House.

My Process

This is a difficult image to work with because of its busyness, the complicated lines and the deep shadows.  As I often do with this challenge, I looked at the original, let is sit for a while, wandering what to focus on.  In this instance what interested me most was the network of roots of the banyan tree on the right of the image.

Banyan trees are amazing.  They start from a seed that might land on a tree branch or a building.  The seed germinates and sends roots towards the ground.  With time, the aerial roots become thick and woody, and envelop the host tree or building structure, as is the case here.  You can see why the banyan tree is also known as the strangler fig!

First Decision: Crop

In Lightroom, I chose my focus: the right side of the image showing the brick wall and the long aerial roots.  With this in mind I cropped the image to a 16×9 portrait. I also made basic adjustments to contrast, shadows, clarity, vibrance.

Crop & Adjust-1

Second Decision: Black & White Conversion

With hardly any colour in the original image, I thought I might as well convert it to black and white, using the Silver Efex Pro 2 software.  Stripping the colour out often has the effect of removing distractions and revealing details.

Here is the straight conversion – the neutral version without other adjustments.


Third Decision: Age

Wanting to emphasize the passage of time, I chose the “Antique Plate 2” preset in Silver Efex .  This gave the image a sepia tone and put a white vignette all round, giving the effect of a photo faded with age.  I added a selective adjustment at the bottom so the roots would not fade out totally. I then added burnt edges all round and an image border to complete the aged look.

Here is the result:

Aged Look-1

Thank you Helen for letting us play with your image!  And a big thank you to Stacy for hosting this interesting photo editing exercise.  You might like to visit Visual Venturing to see how other participants have tackled the November Challenge.  It is always fascinating to see how different people interpret the one image.  Click on the One Photo Focus Challenge link which will take you straight there.

19 thoughts on “November One Photo Focus

  1. Thanks for the extra info about the Banyan trees, I had no idea. 🙂 I love the idea of passage of time. The crop was a good idea, I loved that part of the image as well. Overall, great version of this image. 😀

  2. I had really liked yours when I saw it over on Stacy’s post (and thanks for visiting me!). The crop really brought out those vines. And I loved the antique look – I keep playing with it, but not liking it on my stuff so far. I need to just keep playing with it – as you show here, it can really enhance a picture.


    • Hi Nancy – thanks for the feedback. Yes, the antique look does nit suit all subjects and I fiddled with the settings a lot to get it to a point I liked. Keep trying, it’s part of the fun.

  3. You made some great choices, Chris, and I like your explanations about why you made them. Great work.

  4. I love that antique look, love what you have done with the tree. I think you are the only one who focused on the aerial root, which I thought is the best part of the tree. I grew up with a banyan tree in our yard and had missed it for many years since I moved to US, but I didn’t know that much about it. I appreciate the info you provided us! Thank you.

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