They’ve been revered and reviled, worshiped and ravaged. They’ve been cherished throughout the ages, subjects of great works of art and literature. And they’ve been cut, slashed and burned by the millions. They are sawed, nailed, pounded and carved. They’re ground up and mashed into pulp to make paper, sliced and bonded for plywood. They provide shelter. They provide warmth. They provide food. They provide oxygen. They tame floods and purify the air. We are inspired by their resilience and moved by their beauty.
I’ve been obsessed with trees since I first picked up a camera in the early 1970’s. I’ve photographed towering redwoods and ancient bristlecone pines in California, ghostly junipers in the deserts of the southwest, and brilliant, white-barked, paper birches in New England. I’ve wandered among the comically-shaped Joshua trees of Joshua Tree National Park and the primeval, old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve bushwhacked, my camera and I, through the dense spruce and fir forests of northern New England, Canada, and Alaska. And I have captured, or tried to capture, the parade of colors that we Northeasterners are privileged to witness each Fall.
A photographer can capture the essence of the tree, and do a great job of it, but, until recently, photographers have been limited to one point of view: the view from below. We would most often find ourselves looking up at trees, shooting from ground level. It’s the view we’re accustomed to; it’s the view I’ve always tried to portray.
That was until I learned to fly.
I purchased my first drone a few months before writing this. Quickly addicted, I set out over the course of several weeks to capture something I’d imagined but never had the proper tool for: images of trees from an unfamiliar viewpoint, from directly overhead. The results, from a drone’s-eye view, were more interesting than I expected.
Using snow as a white backdrop, the trees have been removed from their usual context and portrayed as if they were photographed in a giant studio. The images reveal familiar characteristics that we are used to seeing and admiring: grace, power, femininity, masculinity, symmetry and balance- but from an entirely new perspective. Additionally, some of the images bear a striking resemblance to the veins and arteries of the Human respiratory system, a fitting reminder of the importance of trees and their role as the “lungs of the Earth.”
I am hopeful that this series helps to inspire a renewed appreciation for the trees that sustain us, and, hopefully, a renewed effort to preserve and protect this precious resource.
TREES FROM ABOVE
(click image for full screen)