My September 2019 Photo of the Month is CNF50, a photo of “Alex’s Tree” made at Lake Henshaw as a Summer monsoonal storm was clearing.
Why is this Alex’s Tree? Because Alex tells us, “It’s my tree!” Now, he has the photo street cred to make this statement because he has spent more time at this spot than anyone.
When Alex first presented to our Photo Club many years back, one of his images was in his presentation and I recognized it immediately. Somebody who found this Cottonwood must have a similar vision! Maybe that’s why we ended up friends (or why he puts up with me).
While I teased him about his pronouncement, I doubt there is a human on Earth who has photographed this tree more in different seasons and conditions. If you want proof, just do a search for “Cottonwood” on his website.
A monsoonal storm was moving through Lake Henshaw, where we started at the East Grade overlook. We heard quite a bit of thunder. There was a guy at the overlook platform with an obvious lightning trigger on his camera. He was pointed directly North, although the platform looks East and South. Lightning can be interesting to photograph because it is so brief, but so many forget they also need to create a good composition.
After heading back down the hill along Highway 76, we came back to Alex’s tree. I hate walking through the brush off the road to get to the fence-line. It’s thick enough to hide a snake, and sure enough, Alex found a molted skin of one.
Visualize With Dexterity
This image was made vertically, with a lot of negative space. Alex’s Tree is still the subject, but its complimented with a beautiful but foreboding cloud burst. Rain is falling near Warner Springs and Hot Springs Mountain.
This brought to mind a similarly-composed image I made a couple years ago at another lone tree in the Laguna Mountains (see Image here). We are so used to thinking horizontally. Our monitors are generally spaced that way, and even our human eyes look that way. Yet, if you can develop the visual dexterity to allow yourself to see in both orientations, you can build something really interesting.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.