Tag Archives: trees


“A rock may seem a sound foundation but deep, nourished, and interwoven roots will be longer lasting”
– Ed Lehming

This tree growing around a large boulder at the top of a hill got me really thinking, as I made this image a few weeks ago. It seems that the boulder would be a challenging place to grow. In fact, as I considered this image, I tried to think of the process that would create this oddity. Did the tree start growing here and the frost gradually pushed the boulder up? Or did the tree start growing in a small patch of soil on top of the boulder?

It also got me thinking of the notion of the rock being a solid and somewhat permanent object to use as an anchor, yet the rock is not connected to anything and that diminishes its ability to support the tree. I imagine a strong wind or more heaving from frost will loosen this perch over a few years, yet there is a conflict here. The roots, wrapped around the rock fasten it in place, preventing movement.

The real strength here is in the deep roots, spreading and anchoring the tree and rock. Based on the size and age of the tree, this seems to be working but it’s very strange and unique.

How often do we embark on projects, firm in our resolve that things are solid when, in our limited perspective, we are anchored on less than we think?

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 175 mm
1/50 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200

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“Like most boundaries, they have two aspects. What is inside it and what is outside, it all depends upon which side you are on”
– Ed Lehming

I’m still in retrospect mode, moving through photos I made last year, considering the thinking behind their creation and the feelings I was experiencing when I made them.

Much of this is influenced by the world around me, though I try my utmost to detach from the negatives constantly bombarding us these days. One of the themes that was inescapable is the concept of boundaries, both physical and conceptual. A boundary is a point of separation, some boundaries have a transition zone and others are abrupt, often driven by the intent of the boundary.

In the case of this photo, the boundary between winter and autumn is quite abrupt, which is what made me stop to consider what I was seeing. The entire autumn in my area has been highly changeable, transitioning from snow, to rain, to sunshine, with snow never remaining on the ground for more than a few days. This also meant that any snowfall was temporary, at best. Here, the shade of the pine trees shelters a section of snow, creating a very defined boundary.

As I made the image, the thought about the nature of boundaries began to form. After all, if I stand on the boundary and look one way, I’m greeted with a snow filled and wintry view. Yet, if I remain in the same spot and turn around, it’s a late autumn day. If I did not have the benefit of seeing the whole picture, I could assume it is one season, when it is not. So, the boundary is, like I noted in my quote, really dependent on which side you are on and which way you are looking. It’s a concept I would like to continue to build on over the next few months.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 92 mm
1/4 sec, f/16.0 ISO 400

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“Among the Giants”

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”
– Herman Hesse

As I start into 2019, I can’t but help reflecting on the profound influence trees have on me. I spend so much time among them, feeling their energy, sheltered under their branches, observing their slow but steady growth, season by season and, listening to them. Indeed, they have much to say about life itself.

Trees have influenced my photography and pursuit of painting as well. I am intimate with and thankful for the trees I am so blessed to live near. As my chosen quote states so well, trees are my sanctuary. In times where life gets hectic and work is overwhelming, the forests offer me respite, a place where I can simply be. To be among the trees is so incredibly refreshing to my senses. I smell the sap, hear the creak, groan and crackle of the wood as it heats and cools or resists the weather; my eyes are filled with the colours of fresh life as well as slow decay, all in their time. I feel the cool summer breezes among the branches and savour the shelter they offer in the storm.

So, when I came across this plantation of trees near Bancroft, Ontario, I could not help but notice the growth of young trees among their mature ancestors. Truly, among the giants and bathed in the soft winter light.

This is also an image that speaks of transition, from old to new and from past to future. I have no idea what 2019 has to offer. The year 2018 was a true blessing to me, personally, spiritually, and artistically and I expect the trees will continue play a large part in my future pursuits; I’m glad for the companionship.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 70 mm
1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400

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“Back to the Woods”

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” 
 William Blake

Today, a brief reprieve from my my Iceland series, which is not nearly complete. Yesterday, as the early snowfalls melted away, it took the the local forest for a moderate hike.

I’m blessed to live in an area with lots of forest and lots of easily accessible trails. There are favourites which I return to regularly, one being North Walkers Woods, which has a good network of interconnecting trails. The one I chose is what I refer to as the ‘ outer loop’ which follows the forest perimeter and is six kilometres long.

The day stared out dull and overcast, but sitting inside was not an appealing option for me. After a particularly horrible workweek, many of my co-workers were let go, in the ever present world of downsizing, I ended my week family ‘numb’ and simply needed to get out and recharge.

When I’m out hiking and making photos, the outside world fades away and I am simply present in the forest. I hear lots of people talking about this state of being present. I suppose I have always had the ability to do that, without having a formal name for it.

So, here I was, enjoying a good late autumn walk and seeing the dull day turn ever brighter. The sun never fully emerged from the clouds but the light was soft and warm enough to make a few simple forest images, including the one above.

I played with my Prisma app to get the slightly graphic effect, which is quite subtle, and you have to look closely to see the effects.

iPhone 7

“November Birches” – Stouffville Reservoir

“November Birches” - Stouffville Reservoir

“In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.” 
― Cynthia Rylant

Today I decide to make a short departure from my Iceland Journal, though that will continue for some time, as I continue to process the images and memories.

While I revel in those times, not so long ago, nature reminded me that there is beauty here in the present as well. An early November squall brought us a winter wonderland in mid-November.

Some trees are still hanging on to their leaves and it is not quite time to say farewell to yellow and orange for the season. Through the heavy snowfall, bright leaves still shine, bringing colour to the otherwise monotone landscape. Those too will soon be gone. I’m sure the weight of the snow and the cold nights will accelerate their departure as the world falls into the quiet gray sleep of winter, once more.

I did not have to go far afield for this image, it was made just steps from my home, at a local conservation area which always has some new wonder to offer me. Today was no exception.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 122mm
1/200 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400

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“Three things are needed
For humanity to co-exist:
Truth, peace and basic needs.
Everything else –
Is irrelevant.” 
― Suzy Kassem

A reminder, along the way, of what is important. This cluster of tree brought to mind the quote above by Suzy Kassem. So relevant in these complex times.

I have a friend who builds hand crafted furniture, all his work, tables and chairs, have three legs. He jokes, two is just not enough, and four is too many. The number three, is balanced and just enough. The number three is in my mind. So, when I saw this grouping of trees, it triggered thoughts of balance, life, and the events happening in my world, outside the sanctuary of the forest.

Our world seems to be lacking any semblance of truth, peace is just a dream to many, and in a world of excess, basic needs seem to be forgotten, as we pursue the latest fad. Yet, it seems so simple, doesn’t it? We need all three, in balance, and it feels like one is always lacking, or diminished. concept.

At this point in time, as I place myself back in the forest vista, I hold onto this image and try to picture it with one tree missing, and it just isn’t the same. Three are needed.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/4 sec, f/11.0, ISO 400

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“We must leave this terrifying place to-morrow and go searching for sunshine.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Though the forest image above is far from terrifying, at least for me, it can be a dark, foreboding place to many people, especially when  you look deeper into the forest, as the tree trunks weave ever tighter and form a dark wall. Yet, even this wall has a gap and the sunshine pours through it, streaming into the path before me.

There’s something about winter light, it’s the coolness, perhaps, that makes it feel so much clearer. Definitely not warmer, but still refreshing in its own way.

The trails are now fully snow filled an I’m about to head out again to see what the day brings.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@75mm

1/4 sec, f/14.0, ISO 200

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