Lines, shadow, texture, color. These are some of the elements that the eye notices, either intentionally or not, when we look at a photograph. When we have an obvious subject, like people or a landscape, these characteristics meld with the overall image while our brains interpret the story or action of the subject. With a less conspicuous or more abstract subject, such as this close-up of a tree, we rely more on these fundamental photographic qualities to please the eye. But there is a story. There always is. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., my kids and I spent a day touring monuments, museums and checking out the Folklife Festival on the Mall. It was a day of walking, sight-seeing, and more walking. On the stretch of land between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, there is a small cluster of old trees that offers a welcome patch of shade. My daughter had run ahead and was already perched up on one of the bent trunks of a tree by the time we arrived. Here we rested. After taking some photos of her on the tree, I noticed the cracks in the lower trunk where the bark had worn away and the wood beneath was smooth like a hand-rubbed piece of furniture. The wood’s warm color was accentuated by the soft light filtering through the canopy of leaves. This well worn tree had been visited and perched on by hundreds, probably thousands, of visitors, just like my daughter, who could not resist the joy of climbing while parents or others with less youthful energy relaxed in its cool shade. This tree is a monument in its own right that has provided amusement and cool refreshment to D.C.-goers for untold years. Its cracks and exposed wood are a tribute to the generation of climbers, and those to come, who find delight in its simple pleasure. I took hundreds of photos that day, but this one stood out because it was unexpected, just like the shade this old tree provided on a hot afternoon in D.C.
Camera Specs: Nikon D7000, 62 mm, F/5.3, 1/250, ISO 100
© R C Norman Photography, June 2012