Turns out, even though I photograph trees all the time, I know next to nothing! I started to rectify that knowledge gap on Friday when I partnered with Oregon State University Professor Emeritus Ed Jensen to teach a workshop on tree identification and smartphone photography.
It might seem like an odd combination, but it worked well! Trees brought Ed to photography, which he uses as botanical illustrations for his books. Photography brought me to trees, which are a fascinating artistic subject. So here we met in the middle, and shared our respective passions with a group of interested participants. Fun!
Here are a few things I learned about trees…
I learned how the Ponderosa Pine pollinates. They are a wind pollinator. These are the male pollen cones which are releasing their pollen right now. If you barely touch them, yellow pollen streams away.
I learned why the Oregon White Oak, one of my favorite trees to photograph, grows with space between them. (They are shade intolerant.) I also learned why I can only get the really green leaf silhouettes of this tree in the spring. As the leaves mature, they grow thick and waxy, as a protection from drought. Later in the summer, no light gets through the oak leaves, but right now they make an wonderful silhouette.
I learned about the Dawn Redwood, also known as the fossil tree, which was thought to be extinct until China opened up to the West in the 1940’s. It’s a deciduous conifer, losing its needles in the fall. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as deciduous conifers! I guess I’ve only noticed the evergreen variety.
Isn’t that all interesting? And that is just a small fraction of what he showed us! It makes me want to learn more about the trees I photograph. Ed has a book, Trees to know in Oregon, which I will be studying. As I learn more about trees, I may find new ways to photograph them. At least I’ll be more aware of what to notice and observe, which is always a good thing for a photographer.
So, what do YOU know about trees? Have you ever looked closely at the trees in your area? They are a fascinating subject, for both academic and artistic study.