10 TREES WORTH TRAVELING FOR
(WITH A CAMERA)
By Erika Suban
Trees are symbols of life, of resistance, of strength, of stability and growth. The image of a tree is universal, no matter where you live and what language you speak, a tree means wisdom, and it’s easy to imagine that it might know a secret or two.
In fact, many cultures around the world consider trees sacred. A tree was there before we were born and will be looking at the world long after we are gone. A photographic journey through these very famous trees in different parts of the world, is a journey of discovery. And it’s a way to test your ability to capture their soul. We know it’s not easy, but we all keep trying. To get you started, here are 10 trees worth traveling for.
Strangler Figs, Ta Prohm, Cambodia
The temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia create the largest religious monument in the world, and last year welcomed 2.6 million visitors. Of all the temples in the park, Ta Prohm is certainly the most photogenic. Here the ancient temples are covered with trees and their magnificent roots, creating a magical atmosphere that has attracted many photographers. They also stole the spot in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie.
The Angel Oak, Charleston, South Carolina
There is a magnificent tree that stands more than 65 feet tall in John’s Island, just outside Charleston in South Carolina. This incredible tree is estimated to be about 500 years old, and has survived many hurricanes and earthquakes. Once you have captured its powerful beauty, you will want to go for more, and the surrounding plantations in Charleston will be your playground.
The Dark Hedges tree street in Northern Ireland
Along Bregagh Road in Northern Ireland, there is a quiet stretch surrounded by beech trees that seem to close the path. Well, it’s no longer quiet, after Game of Thrones transformed the street into the King’s Road and now it has become a popular tourist location. You might not be able to capture the ghost called the Grey Lady when she visits the road, but you should at least try.
The Tule tree in Oaxaca
At about 6 miles from the colorful town of Oaxaca in Mexico, there is a Montezuma cypress tree believed to be between 1500 and 3000 years old. It’s so wide (50 feet in diameter) that it’s hard to believe that it’s actually one single tree, but it really is. In 1990, it was in danger of dying, but with a lot of water, it recovered perfectly to model for future photographers.
The Largest Baobab Tree in Tanzania
A true icon of Africa, the Adansonia tree (or Baobab tree) can live between two and three thousand years. When the tree is bare of leaves, it looks as if it is planted upside-down tree, because the branches look like roots. Large baobab trees are capable of providing food, water, shelter and medicine for both animals and humans, giving it the name “The Tree of Life”. Where to go to see them and photograph them at their best? Travel to the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.
The Yucca palm is native to parts of the Mojave Desert in southwestern USA. It is commonly believed that Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave desert during the 19th century renamed it the Joshua Tree. This was because it reminded them of of a biblical story about Joshua holding his arms wide to guide the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan. A healthy Joshua tree can live for hundreds of years, while some specimens can survive a thousand years. They can be found in the Joshua Tree National Park, close to the Mojave Natural Reserve and the Death Valley.
Cherry blossoms are the flowers of several types of trees, the most common one being the Japanese Cherry tree, commonly known as the sakura. The sakura is native to many Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, and as far as Iran. But for most of us, they represent the culture of Japan. These trees blossom throughout Japan every spring and their beauty is simply mesmerizing. A trip to Japan to photograph the pink and white flowers, with the sacred Mt. Fuji in the background, is a bucket list item for many. If you can’t make it to Japan, you should visit the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC.
The Tree Skeletons in Deadvlei, Namibia
Amidst the deserts of Namibia, there is a strange landscape with the skeletons of 900 year old trees that are still not decomposed due to the dry climate. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are some of the most famously photographed places in Namibia, specifically for their surreal look. The contrast between the black trees, the bleached-white land, the rusty-red dunes and deep blue sky is the ideal subject for any photography lover.
Giant Sequoia in Yosemite National Park
Giant Sequoias are the world’s largest trees, and you won’t believe your eyes when you see them. Their trunks can reach 35 feet across and they usually stop growing at 300 feet, but the tallest sequoia registered is 379 feet. The oldest one, at 2100 years old and 2.7 million pounds, is called General Sherman, and is located in Sequoia National park. Many giant sequoias also live in three groves in Yosemite National Park. Good luck trying to fit an entire tree in one photo!
Ceiba trees in Guatemala
The ceiba tree was sacred to the Mayan civilization, and was the symbol of the universe. It was declared the national tree of Guatemala in 1955, at the request of the botanist Ulises Rojas. Today, ceiba trees are protected by Guatemalan law. They can grow to 240 feet tall, and the most famous ceiba tree in Guatemala, at more than 400 years old, is in Palin, south of Guatemala City.
There are just as many reasons to travel for as there are destinations. Trees make great subject matter, and can contribute to a great collection over several years. What themes do you work on with your travels? Leave your comments below.