The Fine Nature of Trees

I'd like to reveal the enduring appeal of trees and explain why studying them throughout the seasons can make you a more observant photographer

As my job and lifestyle dictates, I look around the internet for landscape pictures almost daily. I must admit that during these searches, I always come across pictures of trees – colourful ones, new ones, old ones and, sometimes, dead ones. Some people include them in landscape compositions as supporting characters and others use them as the main subject and fill the frame.

So, what is it that makes us want to photograph trees? Do they possess magic powers that make them irresistible to landscape photographers?

Four seasons
The best thing about photographing trees is that you can record their life cycle throughout the year. In the summer a tree is covered in green leaves and full of life. In autumn, the same tree can display the most extraordinary vibrant colours. In winter, it can present itself with the branches covered in snow, a perfect situation for black and white photography. In spring you can experience it in full bloom and covered in buds and flowers.

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A tree can teach you to look out for the small changes, to observe the leaves growing on the branches or to watch out for the season when it drops its fruit. Those biological changes can make you a much more observant photographer. It can change your way of thinking and your way of looking, which in turn will improve your way of seeing.

Trees display various moods during the seasons, which can be affected by the change in the weather conditions and light. Mist, rain and snow can transform the mood of a tree, which in turn will translate to a moody, mysterious or tranquil composition.

Dead trees
This leaves me to explain my fascination with photographing dead trees. I could go on and on trying to explain this fascination, but the truth is, I don’t really know what it is that attracts me to photograph them.

I can, however, say with certainty that I love observing the biological changes that I mentioned earlier. But then again, I love observing any changes that occur in the landscape during the change of seasons, or in the seascape during the change of tides. I strongly believe that once you slow down and start making observations, your photography will improve even further and the amount of captured images will be reduced. However, the quality of those images will be of a much higher level.

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  1. Avatar
    Lesha Mathes on

    I just love the way that dead trees stand out among the living. The white or the dark I don’t know exactly why but I have always loved photographing them.

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    Hello from Alberta, Canada.
    Demitri, I’m currently documenting the life of the worlds oldest living Limber Pine (Pinus flexilus). It has continued to thrive under the harshest conditions for about 3000 years, which means it started growing during the reign of King David in Israel.

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    Hi Dimitri, I liked your article. Down here in Oz most of our trees are evergreen so they don’t change with the seasons but some do have spectacular flowers.

    • Avatar
      Dimitrios Vasileiou on

      Hi Peter
      Although the trees down there might be different, I am sure our attitudes towards them and the way we see them are very similar.

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    Craig Macinnes on

    Thanks Dimitri for taking the time to write this article. Resonated with me because right outside our living room window there’s a solitary tree which I love photographing throughout the year. The area I live in is fairly industrial and the tree for me brings the natural world to what could be pretty bleak uninspiring surroundings. It also serves as a nesting site for a pair of carrion crows a source of insect life for tits, finches and sparrows and the berries provide food for starlings…my world would be a lot poorer without this tree.

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    Paul Grimwood on

    Hi Dimitri – thanks for your article. I find trees fascinating too. Coincidently I’ve set myself a project for this year which is to photograph the same single tree each month of 2018 from 3 different positions. It’s a lovely oak tree that stands on its own in the middle of open grand at our local park. Picture number 4 coming up on Saturday! Hopefully I can make something of the set of 12 images at the end of the year.

    • Avatar
      Dimitrios Vasileiou on

      Hi Paul
      It sounds like an excellent idea, I wish you all the best.
      This could make a lovely calendar for next year for sure.

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