Aspen that has an eye on me – Nikon D810, f13, 1/400, ISO 1000, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
There are times when bird photography is slow that I look around to see what other wonderful parts of nature I can photograph until the next bird flies in, that isn’t because I feel bored, it is because I know that everything in nature is connected and that makes me feel that I should at the very least observe the habitat around my subjects.
When I am photographing in forests that contain Aspens I often feel like I am being watched, not in a spooky or supernatural kind of way, but more in a humorous way because Aspens often have eyes. Or perhaps a better way of putting it is that they have features that look like eyes.
Aspen Eye in the Caribou Targhee National Forest – Nikon D810, f8, 1/500, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I’ve taken many “Aspen Eye” photographs over the years that I have photographed in Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana and these represent just a few of those photos. These aspen eyes form when the tree “self prunes” by dropping smaller branches that don’t receive enough sunlight and that leaves a scar on the trunk of the tree.
Pair of Aspen Eyes, Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 800, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm, natural light
Some of the aspens have multiple eyes on their trunks while some have just a few. Each of the eyes are unique. There are times when I have seen sap dripping from the eyes which makes it look as if the tree was crying.
Sunlit Aspen Eye in the High Uintas – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 800, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm, natural light
Maybe the trees should be crying because in 1996 scientists began noticing an increase in dead and dying aspen trees, in some cases entire aspen groves have died. Possible causes for the death of aspens have included overgrazing by domesticated cattle and wild deer and elk who consume the small trees sprouting from the clonal roots so only the older trees remain. Fire suppression could also be a factor, aspens tend to grow back quickly after wildfires because while the tops of the trees may burn the clonal roots survive and will sprout new, healthy trees.
I love seeing the eyes of the forest upon me and I find myself happy to photograph them whenever I can.
Life is good.