One Dead Tree (20 photos)

It’s a familiar tale you hear all the time. What starts out as an accident turns into something amazing. So it was for Kevin Day, a graphic designer who’s created a beautiful and moving story about one dead tree.

For over five years now, Day has been photographing the same tree on different days, through different seasons and in different lighting conditions. His most popular shot was taken one very early morning on August 18, 2005. He reminisces, it was “when the sun rose directly behind the tree from my best viewpoint and the early morning mist lingered and the dissipated at just the right moment, I couldn’t take shots quick enough, the light was changing by the second and I could feel myself actually getting emotional and excited by taking photos of a dead tree!”

The unretouched photo, with the sun peeking through the tree’s core, became his inspiration. With most of the work done by the sun and the mist, it was the photo that convinced Day that he had to make a set.

Another one of his most popular photos he calls African Sunset. Viewed an astounding 29,000 times, the photo looks like it could have been taken on an African savannah, rather than on a nondescript park in Berkshire, UK.

I was able to get in touch with Day to share ask him some questions. Most importantly, I wanted to know how he had the discipline to take photos of the same tree hundreds of times all the while making them look so incredibly beautiful and different. Here is what he said.

“I guess to shoot a series outdoors you need to be able to maintain an interest over a period of time, so make sure you enjoy the subject matter, and as I have said the most important/changeable factor is the light, so select a subject that looks at its best or comes alive when the light is at its most variable during the seasons – dawn or dusk. What I did enjoy about photographing the same subject over a prolonged period was that through repetition I discovered the best positions and angles for the shots so after a while I could concentrate more on getting the exposures to match what I wanted rather than concentrating on composition.”

He continues, “For five years now I have been photographing it and I can overlay my most recent shot on top of one of the original ones and only the very smallest twigs have disappeared – most probably down to wind damage – I think that is what has fascinated me more than anything else, there is this wonderful old tree unchanging over the years and yet I can take hundreds of photos of it during the seasons and very few of them look the same. It is all about the change around the constant.

See the full set at Flickr.

Kevin Day

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