Tag Archives: Tree Project 2013

Tree Project XI & XII

While I’ve been better about taking the photos on time for my 2013 monthly project, I haven’t been prompt about posting the results here.   As I have done throughout 2013, I’ve taken a photograph at least once a month, usually at the beginning of the month, of the oak tree that towers over the hillside behind my house.   (You can see other posts featuring the monthly photos here.)

In early November, the tree was just beginning to turn:


Early November


Early November, Another view

By December 1, all but a few leaves were gone:


Bare Tree, December 1

A few days into December, we had our first real snow:


Early December Snow

The tree, quietly slumbering, is still magnificent against the winter skies:


At Sunset, A few nights ago


Winter Sunset, Silhouetted Trees

Winter Trees

Cold Winter Sky


Two Views: Tree Project X

I wasn’t home at the beginning of October and it was nearly mid-month before I got around to doing this installment in my monthly photo project.   Several of the shots  (now deleted) of the big oak behind my house look pretty much like the shots in August and September, although the other trees around the oak tree are beginning to display their fall foliage.  While this was initially disappointing, it made my think about how different the tree can look from day-to-day and hour-to-hour.   Like every photographic subject, it all depends on the light.

Crown and Light

Crown and Light

I love the sunflares in this image and how it shows off part of the magnificent crown of this tree.

Here is another perspective of the crown, arching above the other trees on the side of the hill.  (For a sense of scale, note the stop sign in the lower right corner.)  The sky today isn’t nearly as blue, but the colder weather the last few days have painted the trees in fiery reds and oranges.   The oak tree, which occasionally becomes a rusty red before turning to its normal russet shade, isn’t likely to change for another four weeks or so.  In the meantime, most of the trees on the hillside will have lost their leaves long before Old Oak begins to shed.

Across the Road

Across the Road

You can find other posts in this project here.


Untranslatable: Tree Project IX

Recently, I found an article, 11 Untranslatable Words from Other Cultures, published in The Huffington Post.  The original article is from the Maptia Blog.  While these words might not have an exact translation into one word in English, many of them were occurrences or emotions that I have experienced. Two of them represent a feeling that I experience frequently and fit well, I thought, with my September installment of my monthly tree project.

Komorebi is the Japanese word to describe sunlight filtering through trees.  While trees have a beauty all their own, I love when that beauty mingles with gorgeous light, filtering through green leaves, heavy branches, spilling on to the forest floor.

Komorebi:  Beautiful in any language

Komorebi: Beautiful in any language

Waldeinsamkeit is a German word that is used for the feeling one has when one is alone in the woods yet feels a connectedness to nature.   Alone, but not lonely:  to me this peaceful feeling is one of the many joys of a venture into the woods.



Both of the images above were captured around 5pm on September 1.  The oak tree is still in its full summer glory.  Although many of the other trees — mostly elms and serviceberries — have begun to have a few leaves turn color on leaf edges, the oaks probably won’t begin turning for about four more weeks.  These photographs may suggest that I was close to the tree; however, I was probably about 100 feet from it (slightly north and about 100 feet east for the first image, almost directly north  for the second).  You can see other images of the tree — the one we dubbed “Old Oak” many years ago — taken throughout this year by clicking here.

Maptia, according to its website,  is currently under development.  Its goal is to make a map of memorable, beautiful places and to inspire and share this map with a community of travelers.   I am looking forward to seeing what Maptia has to offer when it is available.   The original Maptia article on the 11 Untranslatable words also has a link to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem Waldeinsamkeit.  It’s a lovely poem that I had never read before.  I wasn’t even aware that Emerson wrote poems.  Enjoyable as it is, based on this one poem, there is no danger of me throwing over Emerson’s essays for his poems.  Still, if you like the idea of “waldeinsamkeit”, I recommend that you take a minute to read it.

The Forest Primeval (Travel Theme: Wild and Tree Project VIII)

I’ve joked that I live in the Forest Primeval.   That isn’t true:  it’s just a little spot of forested land, a ravine overlooking a mostly flat landscape of typical suburban homes.  We’re lucky that we have this little oasis in the middle of a city, close to downtown, close to shopping areas, close to most anything we could want, except the airport, but that is only an issue when running late to catch a flight.

When we were house-hunting, we thought the lack of a yard to mow was a wonderful bonus.  I still do not miss owning a lawn mower.   Our “yard” can be rather wild, though; a wooded lot is anything but maintenance-free. This year the pignut hickories have been bombarding the driveway, creating a crunchy blanket that needs to be swept regularly.  Those that bounce off the drive frequently end up in the pond.   I fish about 3-4 dozen out of the pond every day.   Pignuts are one of the few hickories that grow in Indiana that aren’t pleasant to eat.  Too bad!  I could have collected enough to make pies and nut breads for weeks.

As I’ve written previously, there is a big old oak — the eponymous oak of this blog — that sits on a rise behind the house.  A red oak, it may be the tallest tree in the neighborhood and in the fall, its rufous crown can be seen nearly a mile away.  It isn’t easy to get to the top of the rise where this tree sits.  The hillside is steep and no paths have been maintained.  There has been a rampant growth of  honeysuckle in the past few years which seems to have been aided by last year’s drought.  Smaller trees struggle to grow, but, likely crowded out by the Big Oak, many grow spindly and frequently fall during storms.

I’ve been photographing this tree since we moved here many years ago, but this year I’m making an effort to shoot it at the beginning of each month.   Since it is the beginning of the month, I decided that I would cut a swath through the debris (or at least step over and through the wild honeysuckle) and take some shots up near the base of the tree.  Since Ailsa’s theme this week is WILD, these images are doing double-duty:  Ailsa’s weekly challenge, and my monthly tree project.

From the bottom of the hill, about 50 feet away.

From the bottom of the hill, about 50 feet away.

Looking up from the base of the tree.

Looking up from the base of the tree.

Perspective:  Size 6 shoe at the base of the tree.

Scale: Size 6 shoe at the base of the tree.

One of these days, I should measure the circumference of the tree.

You can see other images in my Tree Project series here.

Here are a few randomly selected posts of how others have interpreted this week’s Travel Theme.   Be sure to check out these and others listed on Ailsa’s site.

A Tree Still Grows (Tree Project V, VI, & VII)

One of the things I thought about — with just a teeny bit of horror — when I started my tree project, was how the project could meet a premature end if something devastating happened to the old oak on the hill.  When that tree falls — and I hope it is far into its future — I do not want to be anywhere around at the time.  If I am still its caretaker, I will be sad if it was felled on my watch.

So, if you had been thinking that my camera or my tree met some sort of catastrophic event, don’t worry:  that didn’t happen!  It wasn’t even that I grew tired of taking photographs of the tree.  I’ve been keeping up with my monthly shots of the old tree.   I have just been forgetful about posting them here.    In looking back over the last three months, it is amazing the change in the tree.

Here is what it looked like at the beginning of May:

A Sunny Afternoon

A Sunny Afternoon

A different view, with flares

A different view, with flares

I went away for a few days at the end of April and returned to find the tree with many unfurling leaves.  I love the new-green color that all of the trees wear during the early weeks of spring.  The sun was still high in the western sky as I took these, but was low enough to gently light one side of the tree.   The second photo isn’t very good from a technical perspective, but I love that there were small flares in the upper right corner and the backside of several leaves were lit.

By the first of June, the leaves were completely uncurled.

Looking west and up towards the tree.

Looking west and up towards the tree.

Looking south & up  towards the tree.

Looking south & up towards the tree.

Winter damage, upclose

Winter damage, up close

Standing this far from the tree, the massiveness of its limbs isn’t immediately apparent.   Because it sits atop a steep slope, it’s easy to not realize just how much larger this tree is than the surrounding trees.  Up close, however, there is no doubt that this is an old tree!  Many of the major limbs have a larger circumference than the smaller trees on this hill. A massive tree-size limb fell in January when we were away.  The log which has been on the ground since then has an appointment with a chain saw in the next few weeks.   I’ve been told that it will feed a massive bonfire.  If I feel like braving the poison ivy and the prickly tall weeds near the fallen limb, I will likely take a snap or two or two hundred before it leaves the premises.  I wonder how many rings will be visible?

Photos taken on the first of July do not look substantially different from those taken on June 1.  Unlike last year, the trees haven’t gone into hibernation because of a drought.  We’ve had a very wet month (hurrah!).  The undergrowth, which is manly invasive honeysuckle, makes it difficult to get a good overall photo of the entire tree.

Where the main trunk begins to branch

Where the main trunk begins to branch

Wouldn't this be a fun place to sit -- if it wasn't 25 feet above the ground!

Wouldn’t this be a fun place to sit — if it wasn’t so far above the ground!

A perfect place for a critter?

A perfect place for a critter?

As I took the first shot, I was standing against a 5 foot high retaining wall.  From there, two more terraces and smaller stone walls lean in against the hill.   The tree is about another 50-60 feet away, and about 15 – 20 feet high.  A topo map of this terrain in the middle of the flatlands is interesting to look at.  I’ve been told it is ancient evidence of the glaciers retreating thousands of years ago, but I don’t have any idea whether that might be true or not.

When we first moved here, about 15 years ago when my now-grown son was just a boy, I helped him measure the circumference of the tree.   While I doubt that we were very accurate, the length of string we tied around the trunk was between 14 & 15 feet.   Using a calulator I found on the web and that rough estimate from years ago, the Old Oak is indeed very old — about 250 – 280 years.  (See here for how to calculate tree age)  Perhaps before the year is over, I’ll take a ball of string with me through the underbrush to the base of the oak and take a measurement again.

You can find other photos from my tree project here.

Still Slumbering (Tree Project IV) – and a quick photo app review


The old oak tree was still in its winter slumber on April 1. At least the snow was melted and there was some light–anything was better than the dismal gray that persisted throughout most of March. But, as far as photographing the tree, the shots that I took didn’t look much different than those that were taken in January, February or even March. I found the shots I took too mundane to even bother to post.

It has been a late spring; however, I suspect that I’ll probably see the first buds on this tree around the same time I did last year — towards the end of April. We’ll see how different it looks in my May photo. (You can find the entire series here.)

Even though I wasn’t satisfied with the shots I took, I wasn’t going to skip posting something for this month. Even when we don’t like our work, it can still provide an opportunity to learn something about the craft. For April’s photo I decided to have a bit of fun with a shot I took with my phone last Sunday, using an app that I found that I really like called Repix.

Repix allows you to take a photograph and apply different brushes. For this image I used the edger brush and the charcoal brush to create an outline of the oak tree. To make the other trees in the background a little less distinct, I used the silk brush. In places where I had to much of an effect with the outliner or the silk brushes, I used the bleach pen and the eraser.

Repix gives you several options when you’re finished with your image. Your edits are nondestructive; your original image is still in your camera roll unchanged. You can save the edited image to your camera roll, send it via email, post to Facebook and Twitter, or open in Instagram. The app has a handy undo function and also an erase function.

The basic Repix app is free. There are additional brushes, available as in-app purchases, that allow you to edit color, add artistic filters, or create special light effects, available for $1.99 for each set of brushes. Or, you can buy the entire collection for $4.99.

One of the drawbacks that I find with the Repix application is that it is difficult if you have a lot of detail in your photo to easily distinguish between various lines. Basically, it’s a limitation I find with using your finger to “draw” or “paint” on an image. I often found that when I went to enlarge the image I inadvertently applied the effect. This could be due to my skill level and you may not experience the same issue. Let’s just say that the UNDO button was my friend!

Another drawback, albeit a minor one, is that the Repix app does not give you the ability to add a border or frame around your image. It also does not allow you to make adjustments in the overall image, such as exposure or a presets like other apps. However, since you can open your image directly in Instagram or save to the camera roll, you can do this sort of edit in your app of choice before you post your photo. Sometimes, I think it’s better if an app doesn’t try to be all things; what Repix does, it does well.

Overall, I think that Repix is a handy little app that is a great way to creatively edit photos taken on your phone. It’s not for every picture, nor is it for everyone, but it can be a lot of fun to play with.

You can see my original photo, taken with an iPhone 5, below:


Note and other legal mumbo-jumbo since this is a review: I have not received any compensation or encouragement from Repix for either acquiring or reviewing this product. I’m not exactly sure how I stumbled upon this application but I’m glad I did. I’m sure that I will continue to use Repix from time to time.

In Like A Lion (Tree Project III)

The snow has been beautiful here, but I’m still eagerly awaiting Spring.   A few snowdrops (the flowers, not the frozen precipitation) have bloomed on the woods’ edge and a few early bird daffodils have shot up and have the beginning of buds.  At least they did before the snowstorm.

Here is another shot in a recurring series of the big oak tree behind my house.   It isn’t the central point in this shot, but I like it all the same as this month’s entry.   You can find the others  entries in the project on this page.

Snowy Woods -- taken w/ iPhone and instagrammed

Snowy Woods — taken w/ iPhone and instagrammed

Did it make a sound? (Tree Project II)

Remember my tree project?   Here is my February entry.   Looks like part of a dead branch fell while we were away.   How loud was it?   Or was the silence deafening?

Old Oak, February

Old Oak, February

Broken Limb

Broken Limb

You can see other entries in my continuing monthly project to photograph this tree here.

Baby It’s Cold Outside (Tree Project 1)

It’s 3 degrees here.   I want to be where it is warm.

Old Oak, Late December

Old Oak, Late December


This is the first in a series I plan to do this year, taking a picture of this oak tree each month, on or around the 1st of the month.  This shot was taken on Dec 29, but I’m counting it as my January photo.  Why?  Because I like it better than the ones I took yesterday.  And, my project, my rules!

Lensbaby Composer Pro, Single Glass Optic, 1/2500, ISO 200