Tree Bark

We never stop seeing the world slightly differently, finding a new focus of interest unexpectedly. A few days ago I went for a slowish walk through woodland that was new to me and found myself fascinated by tree bark. I came home with around fifty images of nothing but tree bark.

Maybe it was, in part, because I was reduced to walking slowly having fallen off a ladder a few days previously. Fortunately I fell flat on my back, so the consequence was spread over a wide area of my back. A fall in a different orientation might well have had more serious consequences. As it was, I was relieved to discover I could still move my legs. For the first time in about fifty years I was forced to present myself to the Accident Department where X-Rays confirmed there was no fracture. It has not been a comfortable few days but I am on the mend, although moving stiffer and slower than usual  – I can no longer hurry (hopefully a temporary state of affairs).

When out with a camera we are prone to hurrying – searching for the familiar and in so doing being blind to the alternatives. Slowing down allows us to examine our surroundings in greater depth and sometimes we see things that previously our eyes just glossed over.

Silver Birches are known for their white bark, but more often than not their bark is fractured, distorted, damaged and diseased. And that is when the character shows through – signs that against the odds, despite the wounds that time has inflicted: the trees are still alive. Blink and you miss it. Another lesson learned on the visual journey through life.

Click on any image to see a higher quality enlargement

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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22 Responses to Tree Bark

  1. Hope you have a swift recovery from your tumble Andy – we don’t bounce as well as we used to as we get older!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank for the best wishes, Paul. No, we don’t bounce, and we don’t have the quick-thinking ability either that might save ourselves from the fall. I was lucky. Last time I fell on my back was on the Cuillin Ridge. Had a rucsac on my back and that saved me – the metal saucepan in the rucsac containing the evening meal was re-shaped!

  2. Chillbrook says:

    Sorry to hear of your accident Andy and glad to hear you appear to be on the mend. Slowing down does indeed allow us to see things we might not otherwise see. I particularly like the image on the far right of your triptych where the bark fills the frame. A fascinating and quite hypnotic image. I hope the Bruffies are doing the trick when it comes to your obvious pain. What were you doing up a ladder?.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. I was up a ladder to do some tree pruning. Something I’ve done so many times before without incident. Quite frightening.
      The image you like is also my favourite. Previously I’ve visited woods for the foliage, now it will be tree bark plus foliage.

  3. Heide says:

    Having recently fallen backwards on some stairs, I can honestly say I feel your pain, Andy! But as usual you’ve made the most of it by focusing (pardon the pun) on what you *can* do, instead of griping about not being able to move at your usual pace. Thank you for the lesson in seeing, and for sharing your lovely images. Sending healing thoughts your way!

    • LensScaper says:

      Falling onto stairs can be very painful, Heide, I hope you are through the worst. Our daughter did that some years ago and fractured one of her lumbar vertebrae – no lasting damage fortunately. Thanks for your good wishes – I am mending.

      • Heide says:

        Ooof! Your poor daughter! I was in so much pain when it happened that I feared the same fate — but a CT scan revealed “only” a bruised kidney and some torn muscles. Healing will take time, but every day I feel a bit better. On the plus side, such accidents really are excellent lessons in mindfulness, aren’t they? Very glad to hear you’re mending, though.

  4. bluebrightly says:

    That is a gorgeous photo! I’ve been fascinated by bark textures for a while but have found them difficult to photograph – often the shot looks like, well, nothing much! But that first shot showing the whole little grove beautifully illustrates the bark, but in its context.
    So sorry to hear you fell! Yikes, not good. But it slowed you down – was that the silver lining? Looks like it was. I like your description of the wounded bark’s greater “interestingness,” too.
    Stay on the mend and enjoy the good parts – maybe someone’s waiting on you, too? 😉

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you Lynn for your good wishes and comments. Less pain on a daily basis thankfully. I agree with you – photographing bark is harder than you would think but it’s a topic worth pursuing. As with so many things photographic it’s about learning what works and what doesn’t work

  5. Oh my. Hope you will have a good recovery.

  6. paula graham says:

    Oh dear…ladders…slippery baths or showers…or paths…dangerous stuff. I am fond of silver birches. So graceful.

  7. Sorry it was a fall that moved you into bark photography. These are very nice. Keep getting better.

  8. Lisa Gordon says:

    Oh dear, I sure hope you heal soon.
    My favorite trees, and I just love how you’ve captured them here.

  9. John Linn says:

    Andy, I like how the trunks fan-out in the first image. A nice collection of images from your walk.

    I too fell from a latter last fall (now I see the pun!) while cleaning the rain gutters. I managed only some scrapes and soreness but the latter was bent and now ready for recycle… if only I can get it there… a twenty-foot extension latter is too big for curb-side pick-up and I only have MINI Cooper!

  10. shoreacres says:

    I’m fond of birch trees, and you’ve captured them wonderfully well. I’m most taken with the first photo, with the trees “fanned out.” The different patterns are so interesting, and complement one another beautifully.

    I’m glad you escaped your fall with relatively little damage. I’ve been told (after my own experiences) that healing muscle tears and pulls often takes as long or longer than actual breaks, especially as we add on the years. Still, you’re in good health and active, which is all to the good. Just be patient with yourself.

    What surprised me was your comment that “when out with a camera, we are prone to hurrying.” My experience is so different — put a camera in my hand, and I slow down to almost stationary. I wander; I poke about; I shilly-shally. Sometimes, I just sit around and wait to see what happens. In any event, I thought that was a most interesting comment. Are there particular situations where hurrying is especially important for your photography?

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda for your thoughts and comments. Today is the first day I’ve got through the middle of the day without painkillers. Progress!
      I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I’m always in a hurry – far from it – but there are some situations where I know what I am looking for and keen to hunt those images down. One example of that behaviour would be woodland where my go-to image has tended to be foliage catching the light, and I am usually a fast walker and I tend to think quickly. I guess it’s part of my make-up. Slowing down results in me scrutinising my environment and saying to myself: ‘where’s the picture’, and being forced to slow down in an environment where I have tended to have a one-track mind has its rewards – I start to see it differently and Tree Bark has been the recent discovery. In answer to your final sentence I suppose a situation that springs to mind is photography during an Alpine climb. Climbing with a guide is the safest way to climb major peaks but in handing control to a guide you surrender any control over when and how often you stop – for many good reasons – but that means that opportunities for photograph have to be grabbed when he decrees a ‘stop’. It’s better to climb solo, then I can do what I like when I like and photography can be pursued when I choose – but it creates its own problems, not least of which is ensuring my personal safety!

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