If you are a Nature Lover, listen to Priyanka’s adventure of photographing trees!
A few years ago, when I was living in New Delhi, a little tree across my apartment surprised me one spring morning. It had suddenly seemed to burst into a frenzy of deep mauve blooms, almost as if overnight. One day, it was a leafless sculpture and now, its flowers danced and fluttered in the cool morning breeze, raining down everywhere. Afterwards, I would go out every morning to find the fallen purple-veined flowers waiting for me, as if they were gifts that the tree was presenting to me. It wasn’t as if I had never seen blooming trees before. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling that this was the first time I was hearing them speak as if they were confiding their secrets into me. So began my journey of photographing trees, eager to get that elusive glimpse into their secret lives and thoughts. Nature Lover
Each tree has its own unique character, both in terms of its appearance and biological function. Yet, honestly speaking, it is only when I started photographing them that I genuinely started to become aware of this fact. Over the years, the more trees I have photographed, the more I have realised that how each tree will decide to present itself to the world differently.
Like people, it seems to me that not all trees like to be photographed.
The banyan tree, for example, with its swinging roots and dense canopies is one such elusive tree. In such a case, I find it easier to focus upon the details that make the banyan tree such a magnificent tree to behold. For example, its roots or a close-up of its canopy. The numerous exposed roots travelling across the ground and around the tree are especially fascinating to capture and appear even more dramatic if you choose to present them in black and white.
Flowering trees are naturally the flamboyant ones, the attention-seekers
After being quiet, placid trees for most of the year burst into a frenzy of pink, purple, white, red, and yellow during their respective flowering seasons. The Tabebuia, which is currently dotting the city pink, is a particularly striking example of a flowering tree which really lends itself well to being photographed. As a nature lover, whether you are photographing a Tabebuia tree from the distance or looking up into its canopy, there seem to be endless ways to capture this tree. Similarly, the purple bloomed jacaranda tree is also a delight to encounter, especially just before dusk when the mauve flowers almost merge with the sky. When you glimpse them from far away, they look like purple clouds that have descended upon the tree branches.
But what about those trees which are low key even when they flower? Their flowers are shy, unobtrusive, often white or
I love trees with twisting, gnarled limbs
For reasons as much as to do with the fact that they are fairly easy and fun to climb as well as for photographing them. I call them trees indulging in yoga asanas! Their contorted trunks make them look like sculptures and dancers; their textures tell a million stories.
One of the greatest things that trees have taught me is to look up for once you get into the habit of doing so, there will be many dazzling visual gifts awaiting to be seen. Living in Bangalore, we are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by stunning examples of the raintrees with their wide, spreading canopies. Whether it is a raintree growing in the middle of a road or in a group in Cubbon Park, just pausing for a moment to gaze up into the canopies, they will literally take your breath away.
A fairly old raintree grows in my apartment compound and even though I have photographed it so many times, I always find something new to discover each time. I have taken videos of its leaves dancing in a sunset breeze or eagles flying high above it or kites and nests which have made themselves home in the canopies. A pair of woodpeckers made a home in one of the hollows in the trunk last year while shrieking parakeets now go in and out of the very same hollows during the morning. Similarly, the plumeria groves in bloom in Lalbagh are another good reason to indulge in a bit of neck straining: you will otherwise miss out on a gorgeous spectacle of shiny green leaves and deep pink flowers and skinny silver branches silhouetted against the blue sky.
Each tree has its own story
I have to admit that it took me a while to figure out why it was I like photographing trees and the best way to approach them through my lens. I spent a lot of time walking around parks, gardens, and through the streets, encountering and researching about different trees, taking and deleting a million photographs before understanding what exactly it is that draws me towards a particular tree.
Each tree has its story to tell and and just like people, who take time to open up and reveal themselves, we too have to give trees that time and space in which to allow them to speak and listen to what they are saying.
Priyanka Sacheti is a writer and poet based in Bangalore. When she’s not writing articles or short stories and poetry, she’s exploring and photographing the city.