Photographer Finds Beautiful “Tree of Life” Hidden in Aerial Images of a Receding Lake

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Aerial Photography

Aerial photography captures the world as most people never get to experience it. From the bird's-eye view of a drone, new colors and patterns emerge in familiar landscapes. For New South Wales-based Australian photographer Derry Moroney, experimenting with aerial images has produced a shot depicting an almost mystical “tree of life.” The stunning shot, which was captured in the seaside waters of Lake Cakora at Brooms Head, is one part of a larger project documenting the day-to-day changes of the lake's environment from above.

Lake Cakora is on the North Coast of Australia's New South Wales state—known for its stunning beaches and natural landmarks. The lake is at times inundated by ocean tides, and its waters rise and fall with the rain. Moroney—an experienced nature photographer—began photographing the lake about six months ago using drone camera techniques. On his inspiration to use the technique, the artist tells My Modern Met, “I was already into photography but wanted to be able to take pictures of places with different views that people have not seen before.”

In his new images, Moroney was able to watch the seasonal changes of the lake, returning to the site about every two weeks. “The most major change I have seen to the lake so far is the change of color that it goes through,” he says. “One day it can have aqua water run through it; but then after storms, dramatic browns and raw earth colors pop out.”

Illuminated in many of the aerial shots is a branching shape reminiscent of the “tree of life”—a spiritual symbol found in many mythologies and world religion. Moroney, who was surprised by the discovery of the tree pattern, says, “At the very end of the lake the water runs out and it all spines out into a tree-of-life look.”

On his Instagram, he tracked the tree's shifting colors and size. The image, which first caught the attention of the internet, depicts the lake water saturated with tree oils after a heavy rain. The oils are responsible for the brown color of the water which makes the fractal pattern appear lifelike. Similar twining branches can be seen in artwork from the ancient Near East, modern Judaism, and Norse legends, among other traditions. It is therefore little surprise that people around the world are finding delight in Moroney's images.

As for the artist, he tells My Modern Met, “I eventually want to travel Australia, finding little spots like this and sharing them with the world. I imagine it would be quite the adventure.”

To follow Moroney's photography adventures, check out his Instagram and Facebook pages.

Photographer Derry Moroney accidentally captured a beautiful “tree of life” hidden in Lake Cakora in New South Wales, Australia.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

The nature photographer had begun to explore aerial photography using drones when he took the first stunning image.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

Returning every two weeks to capture the changes in the lake, the artist noticed the variable shapes and colors over six months.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

One particularly vivid tree of life image went viral and is impressing people around the world with a sense of beauty and wonder.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

The tree of life is a meaningful symbol which appears in vastly diverse traditions of religion, mythology, and art.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

Moroney hopes to continue offering beautiful, unique views through aerial photography.

Tree of Life Derry Moroney Lake Cakora

For a video update on the state of Lake Cakora, check out Derry Moroney's inspiring Instagram updates.

Derry Moroney: Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Derry Moroney.

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and reading while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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