My Journey to Find an Uncommercialised Photographed Tree
Where could I find that one brilliant tree shot? Where could I find a unique tree – a tree that was not well known to the photography world? I did not want to shoot a tree that had been shot so many times before. I did not want to shoot a tree that had been featured in hundreds of books.
For days I walked around my village, searching for that special tree. I drove around for miles in my car, constantly stopping to take a look at trees by the river, trees on the university campus and even trees in the beautiful grounds of Bishopthorpe Crematorium.
I love trees, so I was not tired of searching. In fact, I was enjoying myself enormously.
I found a stunning example of a glorious fir tree, ‘lit up’ with its very own ‘candles’, in the Crematorium gardens; however no matter where I placed my tripod, I could not find that perfect image. The lighting was not right.
During that month, I visited Moorlands Nature Reserve, a few miles north of York. Moorlands is a small Edwardian woodland garden, part of the ancient Forest of Galtres. The most stunning Rhododendrons and Azaleas abound and the tree species, with their fabulous colours, together with the tranquillity of the place, lead for a charming effect.
At the time my fiance Nicola had commented that it was such a beautiful, relaxing place, and one that she wished she could remain longer in; however I was chomping at the bit to get back home to watch football on tv and, again, the light had not been at all good!
Having thought that I could return to find something if all other location attempts failed, I set up a few mock shots on my iPhone XS.
The days came and went so rapidly, and I still hadn’t been successful in finding a great tree, a tree which excited me.
Frustrated, but not defeated, and after having had another search for a thrilling tree shot and not finding anything suitable, I decided to go back to Moorlands for a blue hour shoot.
When I arrived at the woods with Nicola, she suddenly surprised me by saying that she could not go into the woods as it was too dark due to the thickness of the tree canopy and she was scared! I was sympathetic to how Nicola was feeling. I told her that we would go home.
I did, however, comment that I had noticed a monster of a Willow Tree situated close to a pond when we had driven through a small village to get to Moorlands. I said we would drive home that way.
Desperately knowing that the evening was drawing on, I quickly turned the car around and drove off with my mapping system leading me directly to my desired destination.
Over these past months, I have discovered something in me that will not let me put my camera down until I have achieved what I set out to do and to do that at the very best of my ability as a photographer.
It is persistence and enthusiasm that drives me to spend the hours I do out and about taking photographs. It is also a period in your life when you need a patient partner. I believe Nicola had it in mind that I may ask her if we could stop at that village pond and not go directly home! That is exactly what I did!
Right there! In front of me, in all its glory of its lush green, full foliage, stood a huge Willow tree, dwarfing everything around it, the houses, the pedestrians, the cars and the noisy, inquisitive, birds around the pond.
It was at that point that I spotted two beady-eyed Greylag Geese who had decided to follow me closely. They were guarding their goslings, and I realised I had to be careful in my movements with my camera gear so as not to get a nasty peck! The issues we camera enthusiasts have to endure are numerous!
This Goliath made me feel that there was some hope.
In and around the pond, there were Mallard ducks and their numerous offspring, and they scattered when I approached the Willow upon realising I had come bearing no food.
Key to a good photograph is the composition. At this stage, after having paced around the exterior of the Willow, I felt rather disheartened with the monster tree, be it such a stalwart, looking like an Emperor in its magnificent coat of amazing evergreen foliage.
Was there a composition from the exterior?
No! It seemed not.
The mass of foliage hung so low that it almost touched the grass below it, like an immense skirt, the size of an enormous marquee.
I got down, on my back, amongst all the fowl droppings – another hazard! Nicola uttered her slight disgust from a distance and said that I would be covered in the stuff and not pleasant to travel with!
Nothing was stopping me now. I gazed up into the dizzy heights of that almighty tree. There it was! after all the hours of searching. My perfect shot! Gifted to me by this magnificent beast of a tree! The opportunity was there all along, inside the tree.
I shouted over to Nicola, who was now sitting on a bench, watching me patiently. I exclaimed “This is it! After all my searching! This is it!!!” “I’ve finally found my subject!”
Excitedly, I set up my tripod with the Canon EOS Mark IV attached, remotely connected to my mobile and shot several photos.
The photograph I selected for processing was taken at 9.50 pm as the “Blue Hour” was coming to a close and before darkness descended. I was so happy.
Adjustments were made in Lightroom Classic, and the selected image was processed to black and white, as it looked more stunning that way.
Do you want to see more trees?