This is my second shot of “the tree that holds up the sky…” for this year. It is, of course, just a particularly attractive, and big, tree at Emmon’s Preserve along the Bascom River in Kennebunkport, Maine. But it definitely has a “the tree that holds up to sky” feeling to it, or so I think. 🙂 Sony RX10iv in-camera HDR at 36mm equivalent. Auto HDR mode. Nominal exposure 1/160th @ f3.2 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light.” Jesus
Sometimes it is hard to the that tree, and sometimes it is just too hard not to be.
To the generous eye it is all one. God is a the God of infinite variety. We treasure each tree in its difference, and treasure the difference in each tree.
There are few places stranger than
the pine plantation at Alwive Pond.
The trees all of a kind and all of an
age…my age…or a few years younger,
planted in the early 50s to fill in
for the fires of 47. And today, in
a January thaw, the trees stand stark
in the filtered light, unnaturally even,
holding high a fragile roof against
the winter sky. The hush is so profound
it is a presence, behind you, a cowled
multitude, breathing reverence in
perfect rhythm to your breath.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro for a somewhat high-key effect to bring out the geometry.
We had another of those snowed all day and then turned to rain days in Southern Maine yesterday, but for a while there we had a nice white frosting over everything. This is just a Blue Spruce in the yard of a house down the street. I like the delicacy of the blue/green against the white, and the contrast in texture between the needles and the snow.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 250 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android Tablet.
This little oak tree, along the edge of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk Maine is one of my favorite local trees. I took the opportunity, as someone had been ahead of me from the road to the parking area in the new snow and made a way for the car, to walk into the pond to see it in the snow. We had rain for the last few hours after the snow fell, so the snow on the branches of the tree is pretty much frozen in place. This was early morning, and I assume that after two days of sun now, the branches will be bare again, but catching it at the right moment made for an interesting contrast with the Grey bark of the tree.
Sony RX10iii at 30mm equivalent field of view. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Program Mode. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
After a wet snow, ending in fairly heavy rain, I did not expect the snow to last into yesterday, but I woke to temperatures in the teens and bright sun on a snow covered landscape. Photoprowl! It was up in the mid 20s by the time I got out, but the sun was still shinning and the snow, with a hard crust from the rain, glistened everywhere. I knew the rain had washed all the snow away on the coast, so I headed inland just on the chance that someone with a heavier 4 wheel drive vehicle had been into the pull-offs on the Kennebunk Plains. And someone had indeed driven into the Day Brook Pond parking all the way, and left such a good trail that I felt safe trusting the Ford hybrid to it. It might be my last chance to walk into Day Brook this winter, if we get much more snow.
This little pine is on the edge of the pond. I looked up as I passed it, and could not resist the sun coming through on the burdened branches.
Sony RX10iii at 62mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
On my photoprowl out to the snowy fields and forest a few afternoons ago, I was on the boardwalk at the Wells National Estuarine Research Center at Laudholm Farms in Wells, looking for whatever spoke to me of winter. It was early afternoon and the light was already almost horizontal, but where, in the days before the snow, it seemed to pick out the warmth and texture of the world…now it cast blue shadows and drew the detail sharp. The contrast between the texture of the bark on this birch, standing a foot from the boardwalk, and the fine grained texture of the snow behind it caught my eye. There was something in the shadows, the way they lay across the snow and behind the birch, that added interest, and the little shattered stump, so pointy, fell in place as an accent. It was the matter of seconds to lift the camera, already set for great depth of field, frame, placing the diagonal just so, and shoot. In-camera HDR and processing in Lightroom brought up the shadows on the trunk and in the snow to make them look natural, subtly molding the surfaces the textures where they fell.
And still it is a picture of nothing in particular. It is a composition about composition…an image about imagery. I could look at it forever. I am tempted to make a really large print of it and hang it where my eye could discover it again, sometimes, in passing, and pause to see what is new in it. It would make a great picture for the wall of a doctor’s office. 🙂
It is, so to speak, a playground for the generous eye…inviting vision…inviting the light inside to come out and play. I think it brings the spirit to the surface, so it fills the eye, brimming like water in a spring. I think it wakes the wonder that is the life of our souls and tempts us to touch what is eternal in us and in the world. Ah, but it is just a picture, you say…a picture of nothing in particular. Yes, I say, and that is what is so wonderful about it! But it takes a generous eye to see. Happy Sunday!
The leaves of the Birches, here, are just turning, pale green and yellow, but the trunks are framed against the blaze of the autumn maples behind. Morning light. Such beauty! Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Wildlife Management Area, W. Kennebunk Maine.
Moderate telephoto at 135mm equivalent field of view compresses the distance. In-camera HDR, Nikon P610. Nominal exposure: 1/250th @ ISO 140 @ f5. Processed in Lightroom.
In summer, walking the lower fields of Laudholm Farm, you would think you were on the edge of a deep forest. In winter it becomes apparent just how thin the boarder of trees between fields and marsh is. Really just a few birches and pines and some underbrush is all that separates the two. As I have said before, birches have always been among my favorite trees, and I find this “hedge” of birches and pines irresistible.
The top panel is another accidental panorama…or rather it is two sweep panoramas, taken with the camera in vertical orientation, neither of which caught quite the full sweep I was after. At home it occurred to me to try stitching them for that last bit of sweep. Photoshop Elements PhotoMerge tool to the rescue! The bottom panel is the same birch boundary at 24mm equivalent in an in-camera HDR from further out in the field. Sony HX400V. Processed in Lightroom, panorama stitched in Photoshop Elements, and collage assembled in Phototastic on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
Yesterday the temperature got up into the high teens so we threw our snowshoes in the trunk of the car and drove down to Laudholm Farm (The Wells National Estuarine Research Center) for a couple of hours. The Friends group there rents snowshoes so the trails are, by now, well packed and pretty easy going. We climbed the snowbank around the parking lot and headed out parallel to the woods that line the drive coming in. I was immediately struck by the shapes of the winter trees against the snow…certainly not skeletal, and not quite nude…but something very like both. The birch is one of my favorite trees at Laudholm…birches in general, and this particular majestic birch that lives along the boardwalk trail. I have photographed it now in every season. The birch shot is a vertical sweep panorama, sweeping the camera from fully over my head pointed straight up, down the trunk of the tree to the base…pretty tricky while standing on 5 feet of snow in snowshoes. 🙂
Sony HX400V, sweep panorama as above, and in-camera HDR for the other shots. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Phototastic on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
As I surmised after my first slog around the yard with them, I am really enjoying being able to get out into the snow covered landscape on my snowshoes. I have not gotten out as often as I might like, since the temperatures, often with significant wind chill, have not been inviting, but each experience has been both rewarding and refreshing. I am not very adventurous on them. I stick pretty much to the established trails and don’t do a lot of trail-breaking, but even so, they take me to places I just could not get to without them, and it has (again as I surmised) made a difference in my attitude toward this winter. The temperature might keep me housebound but the snow does not. This is good.
Because of course there is a stark, is might be so bold as to say, a spiritual, beauty to the winter landscape. Skeletal is wrong word for the trees exposed in winter because the trunks and branches are so obviously still alive, waiting, biding their time, resting even…and we don’t see skeletons until after death. There is nothing dead about winter trees. Naked comes close…since, at a stretch, they have shed their summer clothing of leaves…but that is not quite right either because the leaves are way more than clothing for the tree…they are way too alive…way too much the tree itself to be considered merely clothing. It is perhaps, as though we are seeing the spirit of the tree…the strong solid core that will burst out, in weeks, with new life. And we are seeing the spirit trees against the backdrop of landscape transformed and simplified by its blanket of snow…again as though the clean clear spirit of the land itself is exposed. We might have to bundle up in layers and strap snowshoes to our feet to get out, but if we bring our winter eyes we see the beauty…and is so alive! We see through to the spirit, and have reason to give thanks and praise to the creator, in this winter landscape. Happy Sunday!