The Majesty Of Earth’s Oldest Trees As Captured By Beth Moon

The Majesty Of Earth’s Oldest Trees As Captured By Beth Moon

“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment.”

- Beth Moon

For 14 years, San Francisco-based photographer, Beth Moon, travelled across the world, making stops in almost every continent, in search of some of the oldest, rarest and most majestic trees of every regions and the results, as one might imagine, are beyond astounding. After travelling to some of the most remote corners of the world, she was able to compile together a series called,“Portraits of Time” that features sixty of her tree portraits, every one of which has witnessed unparalleled change during its lifetime.

Desert Rose

Many of the trees have “survived because they are out of reach of civilization,” Moon writes on her website as she documented this project, which took her to mountainsides, private estates, protected lands in the United States, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Before setting out on the journey, she would select the tree that would be best suitable for her series based on three criteria: age, size, and/or notable history while her most common research tools include, history texts, books on botany, tree registers, newspaper articles, and  through friends and travellers that encounters during her trips.
The images are intended to “celebrate the wonders of nature that have survived throughout the centuries,” she states. “I cannot imagine a better way to commemorate the lives of the world’s most dramatic trees, many which are in danger of destruction, than by exhibiting their portraits.” Sadly, many of the trees that she has photographed, such as the Boabab trees of Madagascar, are in the danger of extinction too.
Moon develops her exhibition prints using a platinum printing process, which is an extremely labour-intensive practice that creates the prints of wide tonal scale that are likely to be durable enough to rival the life span of her own subjects. By adopting this process, all the photographs exist in tones that range from cool blacks and neutral greys, to rich sepia browns.

Rilke's Bayon

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 trunks and branches; and the mythical Dragon’s Blood trees of Socotra Island, whose sap was once sought after by Roman gladiators to heal wounds, to name a few.
Her images are powerful in their own way, for capturing and hence, immortalising, these magnificent, ancient trees. Here’s a glimpse of what we imagine must have been beyond incredible to witness with one’s own eyes:

Avenue of the Baobabs
Wakehurst Yews
The Nantglyn Pulpit Yew
The Devil's Pulpit
Sentinels Neg
Heart of the Dragon
Ifaty Teapot
Kings Canyon Sequoias
Bowthorpe Oak
General Sherman
Croft Chestnut
Bufflesdrift Baobab

All images have been sourced from Beth Moon’s website

Words: Krupa Joseph

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