The Burning Tree

Gallatin National Forest, Montana
May 25th, 2008

This is, admittedly, a bizarre photograph – certainly one that I don’t expect to sell very often. I can’t imagine that too many people share my sense of appreciation for the harsh beauty that is left in the wake of wildfires. Lately, I am finding the stark remains of the fire-burned landscape of Yellowstone Country to be a fascinating subject for photography. That is certainly the case with the location depicted above.  I unexpectedly stumbled into this charred forest scene while exploring numerous back roads near my home in Bozeman, Montana. (I later found out that a large wildfire had swept through this canyon in August of 2007.) While most of the forest had been reduced to a black skeleton of its former glory, some of the trees were still clinging on to a radiant collection of of neon orange pine needles. I had never seen anything like it in nature. I suppose the pine needles were simply going through some sort of chemical reaction after not being completely destroyed by the fire. It was truly a bizarre sight. Combined with the vivid greens of the spring grasses filling the meadows, it was quite a feast for the eyes.

The bold colors against the stark blackness led to the creation of one of my favorite photos of the year. It’s one of those very personal images that shares an “up-close” interaction with the cycles of nature … a moment of rare and fleeting beauty that I am fortunate enough to experience from time to time. I returned to the scene a few months later, and the pine needles had completely disappeared from the trees. In fact, nothing remains but the blackened forest. I look forward to returning next spring, to see what new life emerges from the shadows.


One Response

  1. Even without explanations, it’s beautiful.

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