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.
About the Author
Beth Moon, a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area, has gained international recognition for her large-scale, richly toned platinum-palladium prints. Her other books include Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time; Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees; and Literary Chickens, all by Abbeville Press.
Todd Forrest is Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections at the New York Botanical Garden. He oversees all aspects of the management and development of the garden's landmark 250-acre site, its glasshouses, and its indoor and outdoor exhibitions. An advocate for historic trees, forests, urban landscapes, and public gardens, including Magnificent Trees of the New York Botanical Garden. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Steven Brown is a poet and photography critic who writes regularly for 21st Editions and Eyemazing Editions. He is also a writer and coeditor for Edition Galerie Vevais in Germany. Recent publications include Eyemazing: The New Collectible Photography; Beth Moon: Between Earth and Sky; and Dino Valls: Ex Picturis II. Brown currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is finishing a PhD at Harvard University.
A project with weight and lasting beauty Ancient Trees provides the kind of thorough and thoughtful portrait that each of these majestic long-lived survivors deserves.
— San Francisco Chronicle Holiday Gift Guide Selection
[Moon] creates magical images that in their blacks and
whites, silvers and grays, capture the marvel of arboreal forms and textures
. . . [a] jewel of a book. — Christian Science Monitor
Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time is well named. One cannot look at Beth Moon's images of gnarled, overgrown trees and not feel the intrinsic gravity of time.
— Booklist, Starred Review
are notoriously hard to photograph, but Moon captures their individuality
with reverent portrayals these are lavish, awe-inspiring
pictures...Crossing with ease between realms of natural history and art, this
will appeal to all with even the mildest horticultural or photographic
interests. — Featured in the Wall Street Journal's Weekend "Exhibit" spotlight