In the beginning of February, I spent two days in Monterey, where I took three photographs to be included in my small Monterey Trees series. One of them is the featured photo. I took it at Point Lobos SNR, and named the image “Lonely Cypress, 2022“.
I wrote a previous blog post (Monterrey Dreaming) about Monterey Trees, where I explain in more detail how I process my photos, and how they deviate from my usual work in that I apply a texture and a tone to my images.
The Monterey Trees series is centered on the concept of resilience. According to the American Psychological Association, “Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress…As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.”
The conditions in Monterey County are harsh on trees. The relentless wind, thin soil, and salt from the ocean, are challenges that the Monterey Cypress, among other local trees, have adapted to in the course of their evolutionary histories. More recently, the resilience of these local trees has been further challenged by drought, bark beetle infestations and urbanization, all of which have contributed to the death of many cypresses. Sadly, scientists have predicted that most of the still living Cypress trees of Monterey will be dead within the next 20 years.
Urbanization, or should I say, poor urban planning, is a common culprit in other types os environmental disasters. On the 15th of February, a very heavy rain followed by landslides partly destroyed the imperial city of Petrópolis. That’s about 20 miles from where my family has a house. Although it is not possible to control the volume of rain in the tropics, lots of problems can be avoided if the rainforest trees are left alone, since they are responsible for holding the thin layer of soil on the Atlantic slopes. Many people lost everything plus loved ones in this recent incident, and I wish that they have the resilience necessary to recover from this tragedy.
Another tragedy that happened in February, and which brings to mind another type of tree, my family tree, was the Russian invasion of Ukraine. My great-grandparents on my mothers’ side fled from Luhansk, or Lugansk (previously known as Voroshilovgrad), in the contentious Donbas region (near the border with Russia). They fled around 1916, to Germany, carrying my grandfather, then a child. A few years later they headed to Brazil. The trauma of experiencing the reality of wars, leaving one’s native land and abandoning loved ones is difficult to overcome. It is sad that almost one hundred years later little seems to have changed. I pray that my Ukrainian friends trapped in Kiev and their children trapped here will find the necessary resilience to deal with the changes brought forth by this horrendous war.
If social my media feedback is a sample from which I can draw provisional conclusions, my collection of images in Monterey Trees is the least favored by the public. I have fun trying to find more subjects for this project, and figuring out how to properly photograph each one. Throwing your work out there to risk having it rejected is not easy, and every artist, wether publicly acclaimed or self-proclaimed, needs a good deal of resilience to persevere, and courage to learn and grow from one’s failures.
The test prints for this series look beautiful on Hahnemühle papers with a warm tone and some texture. A fellow blogger (thank you, Howard) did a test print of one for me on Hahnemühle Museum Etching, which I liked very much. But since this paper is not widely available, I tested-printed a few of the other photos on Hahnemühle William Turner, Photo Rag, and also on canvas. They all look excellent to me.
I ordered one print sample on William Turner with deckled edge. I wanted to see how it looks like. I like the finish and I think that it agrees well with the “spirit” of the collection. The problem is, I am not sure how to prepare it to hang. On the Fireworks website (where I order my prints from), it says that this finish “is ideally suited if you are planning to display your print floated inside matting and a frame or even a shadow box.” Well, I have never seen this type of finish matted and framed. But, it’s super cool 😎
A follower posted a comment with a link, on my last post about Monterey Trees. The link is to a poem (with an accompanying picture) in a magazine, published in 1914, about a windswept tree in WY. I’m happy to know that a century ago someone saw what I see in those trees.
If you want to learn more about the Monterey Cypress, an endangered species, there is a good article on Wikipedia.
I have a few previous posts about photography projects and series, where I discuss the possible benefits of working that way and some difficulties I have encountered in my own work.
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