Ancient trees Portraits of time

Beth Moon

Book - 2014

Provides a photographic guide to some of the world's most ancient trees, featuring seventy portraits of such species as yews, baobabs, and dragon's blood trees.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Abbeville Press Publishers [2014]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
104 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780789211958
0789211955
Main Author
Beth Moon (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Photographer Moon traveled the world for 14 years, visiting ancient trees and making portraits of these venerable witnesses to centuries. Todd Forrest of the New York Botanical Garden provides a stirring and informative introduction to the trees Moon photographed with remarkable acuity, including Earth's oldest, the Great Basin bristlecone pines, which can live for five thousand years; kapoks, long-lived "tropical giants"; and olive trees, which embody "the paradoxical combination of great age and great vigor." Moon's exquisite duotone photographs radiate awe. Using film and a platinum-palladium tincture hand-brushed onto watercolor paper, she creates painterly, magical images that in their blacks and whites, silvers and grays capture the marvel of arboreal forms and textures and the very life force that flows through such magnificent trees as enormous yews in Great Britain, regal baobabs in Madagascar, quiver trees in Namibia, and dragon's blood trees on Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen. In the closing essay in this jewel of a book, critic Steven Brown writes, "capturing the selfhood of the tree is the distinguishing genius of photographer Moon." Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Photographer-explorer Moon traveled to five continents to capture beautiful black-and-white portraits of extraordinary trees, beginning in England, where she says there is "an affinity for all things arboreal." Apt, because the venerable oaks, yews, and chestnuts the author acquaints us with have massive, arresting stage presences like great actors. Readers move on to other stalwarts, such as barrel-chested baobabs in Botswana, California's sequoia (seen from within, interestingly), wizened olives in Israel, and to Cambodia, where strangler figs literally strangle ancient temples. Trees are notoriously hard to photograph, but Moon captures their individuality with reverent portrayals, and, it's as if one is standing before them. Created with a Pentax film camera, these are lavish, awe-inspiring pictures. Narrative captions flesh out the plants' individual stories; W.S. Merwyn's poem "Trees" is inserted, augmenting our wonderment at one of the natural world's greatest productions. Refreshingly brief but informative introductions by Moon and by Todd Forrest of the New York Botanical Garden accompany the visuals and supply excellent context. VERDICT Crossing with ease between realms of natural history and art, this will appeal to all with even the mildest horticultural or photographic interests.—Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L. [Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Provides a photographic guide to some of the world's most ancient trees, featuring seventy portraits of such species as yews, baobabs, and dragon's blood trees.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Photographer Beth Moon spent fourteen years travelling the world to take photographs of large, ancient, and unusual trees. They are presented in this book. The pictures are in a consistent style: black and white, with a slightly soft focus, lens and angle choices to capture the tree as a whole while retaining the greatest possible sense of closeness, and a palette of soft warm gray tones. They are influenced by the Ansel Adams style of stark landscape magnificence, with an added mistiness. The trees themselves are remarkable at a level that will interest readers not usually interested in trees. In places like Britain and Cambodia, they may contain ancient human buildings. Some, in places like the North American deserts and Socotra, have shapes most people have never seen. The book is divided into two sections. The first contains full-page images. The second shows the images as thumbnails, with paragraphs by the photographer describing the location and the tree. The book's introduction is by a senior staffer at the New York Botanic Garden. A variety of readers interested in natural history, photography, art, or the environment will enjoy the book. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Captivating black-and-white photographs of the world's most majestic ancient trees.Beth Moon's fourteen-year quest to photograph ancient trees has taken her across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of her subjects grow in isolation, on remote mountainsides, private estates, or nature preserves; others maintain a proud, though often precarious, existence in the midst of civilization. All, however, share a mysterious beauty perfected by age and the power to connect us to a sense of time and nature much greater than ourselves. It is this beauty, and this power, that Moon captures in her remarkable photographs.This handsome volume presents nearly seventy of Moon's finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees' because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon's-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.Moon's narrative captions describe the natural and cultural history of each individual tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at The New York Botanical Garden, provides a concise introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. An essay by the critic Steven Brown defines Moon's unique place in a tradition of tree photography extending from William Henry Fox Talbot to Sally Mann, and explores the challenges and potential of the tree as a subject for art.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Captivating black-and-white photographs of the world’s most majestic ancient trees.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Beth Moon’s fourteen-year quest to photograph ancient trees has taken her across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of her subjects grow in isolation, on remote mountainsides, private estates, or nature preserves; others maintain a proud, though often precarious, existence in the midst of civilization. All, however, share a mysterious beauty perfected by age and the power to connect us to a sense of time and nature much greater than ourselves. It is this beauty, and this power, that Moon captures in her remarkable photographs.This handsome volume presents nearly seventy of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.Moon’s narrative captions describe the natural and cultural history of each individual tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at The New York Botanical Garden, provides a concise introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. An essay by the critic Steven Brown defines Moon’s unique place in a tradition of tree photography extending from William Henry Fox Talbot to Sally Mann, and explores the challenges and potential of the tree as a subject for art.