The perfect specimen, standing all on its own in a stunning and bleak landscape
All trees are special in their own way but, for me, first and foremost a tree has to have a good (or interesting) shape to make me want to photograph it.
It’s not just the tree itself, but the surroundings too. That’s because they have be complimentary, so that the composition is as good as possible. I often see trees that are a nice shape, but usually there’s something right behind the tree, or next to it, that ruins the shot.
I would also say that it takes time to get to know your subject, and trees are no exception. I make repeated visits to most photography locations in order to get the shot I want. Perseverance is the key!
This tree (black and white photo) was the perfect specimen, standing all on its own in a stunning and bleak landscape.
I loved the way the trunk was bent, yet the branches were strong, upright and symmetrical.
I’d planned to go back and photograph this tree again, but just a few weeks later a fence was erected right in front of it. There was no way to get a photograph without the fence in the shot, and no way to get behind the fence either, even if I’d wanted to.
It was all done legally by the Forestry Commission, who wanted to protect the tree and everything else around it from deer and ??? Maybe from hordes of photographers!
[Interesting fact: this tree was actually quite tall – maybe 8 or 10 feet, even thought it doesn’t look it here].
‘Tree of Gold’ – a perfect tree for photography
Above: ‘Tree of Gold’, Hidden New Forest
Last year I was in the New Forest taking photos when, by chance, I spotted a hidden gem. Pretty much out of sight from main paths and situated amongst a forest of pine and birch trees was a beautiful beech tree. It was autumn and the tree’s leaves had turned a wonderful golden yellow colour.
To get to the beech tree I had to clamber through ditches of water and booby traps of dead bracken hiding fallen logs which, if you weren’t careful, would trip you up. Eventually, there it was in front of me, shining out like a beacon.
This tree, that I nicknamed the ‘Tree of Gold’, was nothing to look at in the summer (see photograph below), but in the autumn it’s a completely different story. What I’m trying to say is that there has to be something special about a tree for me to want to photograph it. Once a year this tree becomes special.
Above: ‘Tree of Green’, Hidden New Forest
Now ‘Tree of Green’
I was back in the New Forest again this summer and thought I’d look for the Tree of Gold, even though I knew it would be a Tree of Green. However, could I even find the pine and birch forest it lived in? Well no.
I’d followed what I thought was the same path as last year, but even when I thought I was in the right bit of the Forest I still couldn’t spot the tree. Actually, it was there, but because it was green it looked completely different (and so did the trees around it) I didn’t recognise it.
The Tree was swamped by the green leaves of the surrounding birch trees, and you can see from the photo, here, that it’s all just a green mass.
It didn’t help that by the time I found the tree it was the wrong time of day, and the only light came from a few harsh beams of sunlight that filtered through the dark tree canopy.
You can see how difficult it was to get a good photo, and you can also see that the tree is ‘nothing’ compared to the way it looks in the autumn.
Two Trees of Gold in 2019
I’ve been back to the New Forest several times this autumn and last year’s Tree of Gold is currently both gold AND green – see the photo here.
I’ve also found a second Tree of Gold – see the second photo.
Above: Last year’s Tree of Gold. You can buy a Tree of Gold greetings card here.
Above: This year’s Tree of Gold. You can buy this Tree of Gold greetings card here.