Filing cabinets in extra saturated colors tumble down the hill near Santa Margarita Road., color altered and saturated to bring out the texture.
Filing cabinets tumble down the hill near Santa Margarita Road.

Less altered color

These are rusting filing cabinets — I’m pretty sure — in a tumbled pile in a hidden ravine next to the dirt Santa Margarita Road. Likely they arrived when a supply person reasoned this was the easiest way to get rid of the old furniture.  An office furniture-knowledgeable person may be able to more definitively identify the metal’s past life and maybe how long they’ve been there.  It’s hard to know because rust comes quickly despite the relative lack of rain here.  It is regularly damp from dew and fog.  Coast live oaks are in the backdrop with some cactus. All this adds to the “texture” in this area of wilderness.

Because of this texture, I initially thought to make this a black and white image to best capture the variety of plants and the shapes of the branches but the red of the rust played well with the tones in the grasses especially when I toned down the inherent goldness.  The increased green-yellow of the cactus then balances the increased red.

Coast live oaks near Santa Margarita Rd in enhanced and altered color.
Coast live oaks near Santa Margarita Rd in enhanced and altered color.

Enhancing and shifting the colors already there

These oaks were originally black and white as well.  The grove is full of majestic, large trees with many dead branches, likely due to years of drought.  The branches give the trees an ethereal look with a lot of movement and texture, just calling for black and white.  I did try it and liked it, but gave it a fresh look when I reviewed my edits.  After enhancing the shadow color of the branches, the cyan/aquas just stood out.  After that, it was just a matter of determining what the rest of the image needed.  I desaturated the color almost to black and white, leaving some green and adding back tones to the grass to keep from being too stark.

A spreading coast live oak in altered color.
A spreading coast live oak in altered color.

‪Evolution of the image

This oak was also originally black and white as the shapes and textures were great but there was little color.  When I returned to adjust the tones, I started from scratch.  After playing with it, I discovered the shadows were much improved in purple.  The green leaves didn’t work so I desaturated them and emphasized the shadows to deep blue.  I brought back the warmness of the grasses in places to keep it from being too stark, and kept some of the golden leaves for some hits of a complimentary color.

As I was working on this image, I thought about Danny, my brother-in-law.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer three years prior and lost his fight the day before.  I continue to be surprised when I realize I will not speak with him again.  After 30 years in the Navy, he is returning to sea.  This tree for me, with it’s cool and peaceful shade provided a resting place for him to prepare for this last journey.  I will share Nate’s comments about his relationship with his brother in another post.

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