© Paul Mozell 2009
As a certified tree hugger I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been photographing trees since I first held a camera. I think it was the free-form sculpture of the 1960’s and 70’s that I saw at New York City’s museums and galleries that taught me to admire trees for their shape and form. On this sultry, hot, nearly unbearable day in Massachusetts, when a walk of about two miles in the The Appleton Farms Grass Rides (Ipswich, MA) was the most I could muster, I made just one photograph.
With bright sun, strong shadows, and burn-out highlights on the oily leaves of the poison ivy wrapped around the ancient oak, this photograph was rescued by my favorite new toy; Photomatix. After wiping the sweat off my tripod-mounted Nikon D300, I had the presence of mind to fire off a succession of 5 bracketed frames. Later at my Macintosh digital darkroom I merged 4 of those frames as an HDR ( high dynamic range ) image, modulating the balance of highlight and shadow. The range of values in this resulting file, is pretty close to what my nearsighted eyes saw in the afternoon, at the edge of a small meadow.
And here it is, an ancient oak tree that has seen the passing of many generation of Appletons. Its hollow trunk welcome small mammals and the gaze of curious photographers, and stretched its aging crooked arms in a welcoming gesture. It won’t be standing much longer. Let’s enjoy it while we can.