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The Cycle Of Life in the Big Woods

June 15, 2016  •  1 Comment

We have had an amazing spring in Minnesota. Everything is greening up beautifully. Recently I got out hiking at Wood-Rill Scientific & Natural Area on a cool, rainy day. I've written it before, but it bears repeating. Rainy, cloudy days are the best for photographing in the woods. The darks get darker and the colors get more colorful. It's as if the entire contrast range expands by a couple notches (whatever in the heck that means really). The quality of the light becomes magical.

You can see in the image above just how wet it was in the forest this day. The maple seedlings are incredibly thick on the forest floor. The amazing thing is that few of them ever make it to a sapling, much less a full grown maple tree. The odds for making it must be hugely against these seedlings.

The more I work in the Big Woods the more I see the cycle of life at play in my work. I don't see this in a morose or sad way at all. On the contrary I actually find it strangely comforting. I see that the cycle of life is part of nature's way. In a Biblical sense, from dust we have come, to dust we shall return. We are of the earth and of God's creation. To that we shall return.

The tree in the image above is one example of the cycle of life that I keep returning to as a photographic subject. This tree, although still standing, was split asunder during a storm, opening up the forest canopy and allowing untold numbers of seedlings to flourish. Which one out of those many seedlings will replace this magnificent tree only time will tell.

It recently occurred to me that this tree is a visual metaphor for Christ dying on the cross to save us. The fact that this tree forms a cross structure and that it is still standing makes it a wonder to see in person. Last week I led a group from our church on an informal worship walk through these woods. Our turning-around point was this tree. Everyone in the group stopped and looked up in awe at this beautiful, broken tree. It was truly a spiritual moment in the Big Woods.

I've decided not to worry about whether my Big Woods work has run its course. I still find this place magical, so I will go hiking there regardless of whether I have a project running or not. If I'm going to hike in the woods then I might as well bring my camera. After all, it's what I do when I'm hiking...I make photographs. The two just seem to go together for me.

So, if my Big Woods work is getting long of tooth for you, I apologize, but to be honest, I do it for myself more than anything. It's enough if one person says to me that they can smell the woods and feel as if they are transported into the woods by my photographs.


Comments

1.Lucille Northenscold(non-registered)
Those are maple seedlings? Here all along I thought it was a carpet of ivy ground cover. One is never too old to learn. Thanks for the blog, son.
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