This little guy is on the side of a road and from the first time I saw it (travelling from Joensuu to Kouvola) I wanted to take a shot. On this occasion (just 2 days ago) I had with me my Panasonic G series (GH1 and GF1) cameras and picked the 20mm f1.7 lens to attempt to get the best background diffusion.
Which is still futile to my mind. That isn't the best shot from the day, I'd pick this one for that:
But as you see its just not standing out from the background. I've tried many lighting situations (well natural lighting) and the combination of its size the required distances make it a tough shot.
I have found that in many ways its the classic photographers conundrum. It looks like its a matter of just getting in there but it really isn't.
On driving past you focus on the tree, but the brain picks it out like a telephoto lens while the fact that you're looking out the window of a moving car makes the background and foreground vanish (thanks to the brain) and you see just the tree.
In practice a telephoto won't work because being in a car on the road is higher than the surrounds (and its a highway) and as well there are many obstacles which your brain filters out (like foreground trees).
I've been back in many seasons and many years to try my luck. So far the hardest work produced the best results. Anita and I skied in from the other side (through the forest behind it) and I waddled around that rocky area (which has parts over 2 meters deep when covered by snow) and found this angle.
For this I took my 4x5 camera and shot with a 180mm lens (which is about normal or equivalent to a 50mm) but having a huge pupil (remember DoF is what puts backgound out of focus and its pupil diameter not simply F stop) was helpful in making the background a bit more out of focus. The film was ADOX 50ISO which is an old formulation emulsion.
I think its the best result when you look at a large print and yields the best detail of anything I've used as well as the best background isolation.
The funny thing is that each time I walk around there I seem to settle on the same location each time without having any record of it with me. This is the first shot I ever took of that tree, with my Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera. I took it using NEF (which is RAW) and just reprocessed this again now with Snapseed ... its not the sharpest but its also not bad.
I pondered this shot for some months after I took it in 2008, and felt that not only was more detail needed (the resolution of the digital was not good enough) but more background isolation too.
So this one of those thing where the only thing which really has improved the image is going back to 1940's technology (and 4x5)