8/52 Going Back to Nature

Just because I’m currently on the road in Alaska doesn’t mean I’m going to forget to shoot my weekly self portraits for my 52 project. I’m 2 months into the series, which means only 10 months left (I’m going to pretend that that’s not a lot.) While I’m in the 49th state of America I can finally make photo in a real forest! Free of civilized structures cluttering the horizon line, dry desert shrubs, and clear markings of human activity. If you think about it’s actually incredible the lengths you’d need to go through to get back to nature.

52 by Melly Lee (mellylee.com)


Aside from local hikes I’ve been undertaking, my recent excursions have taken me to San Diego, Seoul, and New York. All of which are very lovely cities with individual personalities and traits. However at the end of the day they’re all just another sub genre of a city. I’ve been wanting to return to nature and cleanse my palette for culture. In a way I feel I can’t appreciate the uniqueness of different urban areas without visiting the other end of the spectrum in between. Going back to nature evokes a letting go trance that calls to relinquish control and be at peace with the present and inevitable change. Somehow I wanted to visually translate my thoughts.

Sometimes you have to relinquish your will and let the inevitable change occur.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’m currently traveling around somewhere between Fairbanks and the North Pole. Gear wise I paired the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a 12-24/2.8. This camera outfit is extremely light weight and perfect for trekking through the thick forest areas of Alaska.

Initially I tried waking up early to shoot myself walking into a bunch of autumn colored trees towards a sunrise. Although the image was lovely it didn’t convey a sense of relinquishment. It felt to bold, aggressive, contrived, and the colors were too jolly. I scratched this attempt.


I later found a clearing within a thicker and rougher forest during one o my hikes in Chenna and ended up shooting there instead.

Since I often have plans to extend the background of my image and then crop at the end to finalized the composition of the final image you will find me shooting self-portraits with the camera in a vertical/portrait position. This method will take advantage of the camera’s full resolution. It will also help keep a shallow depth of field in a wide frame.

MellyLee-52-Alaska-1Once camera was locked on a tripod I proceeded to create frames of a pacifist version of myself being aggressively pulled by a bunch of hands. To create the hands I had a friend hide behind me and straggle me in various ways.

In Photoshop I layered all the frames on top of each other, masked around my friend’s arms, extended the background, and colored the image to make the final photo.




Equipment Used:

OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Mro Four Thirds Digital Camera
M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
Induro Alloy 8M AT214 Tripod

More on Project 52:

Why I’m taking the challenge: blog.mellylee.com/2014/09/52-week-challenge
Week 6: blog.mellylee.com/2014/09/652-never-give-good-luck-will-find
Week 7: blog.mellylee.com/2014/09/752-garden-state


Tags from the story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.