Seeing The Forest For The Trees

The saying is, he can’t see the forest for the trees. In other words, all the details get in the way of the big picture.  The secret is, to see the big picture not in spite of the details, but because of them. Every forest in life is made up of a lot of trees.

Trees are not only necessary for the health of planet Earth, they provide some of the sustenance that mankind needs. Nuts, fruits, oxygen. Maybe more importantly, they are food for the soul and an artistic treasure.

I could easily share 10,000 pictures to illustrate today’s post, but don’t worry, I edited it down a little bit.

Tree trunks are a favorite subject of mine. I love every part of trees, but oh those trunks.a5slides4-111






Trees have strange and beautiful forms and therefore make powerful silhouettes at sunrise or sunset.b1srdsc_0018bc




Trees make great compliments to man-made objects. A little of man, a little of nature.b5dsc_0160

Birds use trees, for everything from a lookout or perch, to a supply of food, to a place to call home (nesting). Trees are often the visual anchor photographers use to bring birds down to earth, so to speak.c1dsc_2741






There is no better way to artistically illustrate the seasons than through the use of trees in our photographs. Whether the leaves of any given deciduous tree is green, red/yellow, brown and crinkly, or altogether missing, can sum up a season with one photograph. Add a little snow or frost, and your image can be defined specifically as winter.













Trees make a great balance for landscape photos. Whether they are living organisms that dominate the foreground of an interesting landscape, or they have met their demise and are used as a lead in to a grand landscape, trees can complete the picture.





Trees also make nice frames for interesting subjects. Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.c20fnew

Trees can also serve the purpose for counter balance to a spacious and grandiose sky. The trees are small here, but significant. I felt that taking all of the color out of this image helped meet my desire for this picture to flatter the shape and design of the clouds. I think in color, this image becomes too much about the blue in the sky.c21deersky-059bcd

Trees can make a nice contrast for other subjects as well. I thought this conifer worked nicely with this Black Hills rock to provide that contrast.c22dsc_3268

Sometimes what is a tree and what isn’t can be disputed. Most people consider cactus such as Saguaro and other big booming species to be trees. I would imagine that Agave plants are not technically trees but they serve the same compositional purpose to flatter the land. In this case, to add life to the sand.c23dsc_0217

A cut tree provides some clues as to how old it may be. It also lays bare the heart and soul of the tree. A little frost, and some morning sidelight not only reveals details, but makes it a better picture.c24frost-085new

Beauty in close-up details, is in the eye of the beholder. I found the cool green needles of a Pine tree gently caressing a single leaf that had departed for the winter from a Red Maple to be interesting. The warm red colors advance from the cool green, but most of all, I was attracted to the “almost” symbiotic relationship between these two very different trees.

We are all different, would you have bothered to photograph this?fallpets-019

Leaves are an important element of trees, but we all need to carry our photographic vision beyond the trimmings. It is often the skeleton that has the most photographic character. It is kind of like photographing the human form in the nude. A nude tree shows us who they really are. Whether they are illuminated by the light of day, or they remain a silhouetted shape to be interpreted, leafless trees are beautiful.zsnowl2-031




I have a habit of thinking deeply, and studying obsessively, my photographic subjects. Even today, I am always looking at and examining what makes this tree different, or what makes that tree more photogenic. If it weren’t for trees, my photographic life would have been far more shallow.

Please have a special Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Psalms 107: 8-9

8. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

God Bless,                                                                                                                                                   Wayne


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