The Solitude Tree – A Special Project – 2017/2018
*** When you click the on the pictures, it will enlarge for you***
The Solitude Tree is a special project that I’m doing this year. Normally I would have this in my blog but I have decided to give it it’s on heading on the home page. I’ve done this because it will be easier to find for those who are following this project.
The aim of this project is to photograph The Solitude Tree for the course of this year and partly in 2018, to show it through all of the seasons. So why am I doing this? Time will reveal that and I hope through my writings, through the images, that the question as to why will be answered.
I’ve had two outings with The Solitude Tree and these pics will be posted in the next 48hours.You will see this tree before the sun sets and I hope during the course of the 12 months that I will be able to do justice to this silent witness who observes nature at its best.
This project will run for 12 months and will finish on the day that I first posted the first pic of The Solitude Tree.
As a photographer, I find this project exciting, awe inspiring and it feeds my soul with mystery and gratitude. I have no idea what I will discover myself in this project. I have no idea what will dominate the landscape and only time will have those answers.I have no idea if there would be a single person who would follow this project right through with me from the beginning to the end.If there is one such person,then I’ll have a gentle contented smile on my face.
People are time poor so I do understand if people don’t have the time, but for those who will follow this project, let me thank you now for your interest, your enthusiasm and your support.
Clearly there are times when I’ll be away running my Photo Tours and clearly the images will be taken when I’m back home. I have no doubt when I’m away , that there will be simply awe inspiring moments that The Solitude Tree will observe and yet, the photographer will have to be patient and capture it when he is able to.
This marks the first shoot for The Solitude Tree. I had a concept in mind, I knew I had to find a tree that was to match the concept that I had . I spent a very long time looking, driving around where I lived.( 15 months to be exact) I traveled most of the dirt roads and in the end, I found it and although I traveled far and wide, it ended up being 10 minutes from where I live.
I knew that when I saw it, this was I was looking for. There were several factors that I had to have for this tree to become reality and there was no way I’d be compromising, hence the reason that it took such a long time. So it was important that I find this tree and on the 4th of January I finally stumbled upon The Solitude Tree as I have maned it. I knew then, that the project was up and running.
Making a decision to leave home to shoot the tree can always be a hard one as like life , sunsets and sunrise are all unpredictable.I have been shooting sunsets and sunrise for a very long time and there are three things that I have learnt over the years.
1.You can never predict with certainty if the sky is going to catch fire
2.When it is totally overcast, you can never say, ” It just wont happen”
3.If it doesn’t go your way, don’t be disappointed, have the mind set, that there is always tomorrow to look forward to and you’ll embrace the next one with a greater sense of expectation.
This picture and the ones that will follow were all taken on the same evening of the 10th and the contrast is amazing and although I have seen the unpredictable flourish beyond any expectation, it still blows me away how it all happens and I feel very blessed when it does.Why is that, well simply because I believe that every breath that we take is a bonus and a gift. Life is a gift that we have been given and yet it is always unpredictable so I’m thankful for the things that I get to see through the lens and through my own eyes when I’m not looking through the camera.
Before I mentioned that every adventure when dealing with the sun going up and going down is never predicable 100%. Where I live in relation to the tree is only about 10 minutes away from me although it took me such a long time to find it. I usually arrive at my spot around an hour before the sun going down if I’m aiming for sunset, morning shots will be different and they will start to appear when the conditions are right for me.
Out of my kitchen window I looked skyward and it was dark and stormy and this is reflected in the picture that you can see now as this was the first shot I took of the The Solitude Tree when i arrived.I love the drama in the skies and at the time it was raining on and off. I decided to go and in my haste to get in the car and go, I left my rain gear at home but there was no way I was going back. I just had to get there and see what was going to unfold.
Tonight’s lesson was invaluable and it really just drove home to me yet again that you just can’t have the attitude that you know it all when you don’t know what is the knowable.For me it’s like God teaches me again the lessons of life and I’m sure he will give me insights through the course of this project.I couldn’t but think to myself if He was saying to himself “Pete, check this out when you are doubting things’
The stormy skies give you a different mood to your subject and it also tells the story of The Solituide Tree. There are visitors to this tree and if you look carefully at this picture and previous ones above, you will see cows, calfs whom share this field also.
On the previous segment, I saw the calfs playing like puppy dogs, it was so cute and once again nature touches you in ways that brings your inner self out once again and its a reminder of the things we find adorable that at time we can forget at times.
When you think it couldn’t improve, I think God has the last laugh. Who would have thought that one would have gone from the first image, dark stormy and rain on and off to this shot. It was humbling to see the incredible shift in colours from the dark greys to the vibrancy of colour at the other end of the spectrum.
The kitchen window reveals all to me, well it is my guide, do I or don’t I. I decided to as I could see an awesome expanse of cloud but on the other hand it was moving in the wrong direction where the skies were running from The Solitude Tree and I thought to myself. Ummm I was undecided for a while whether to go but there was something within me that at times gets the better of me and I had this gut feeling that this was going to burn. I can’t explain it but I just felt this burning passion within. So it was back to the car. I travelled half way there and in my excitement, I forgot my second camera. Bum I thought to myself but there was no way I was going to turn back.
I think I had time to turn back to get it but things would have been a rush. When I’m shooting I like to arrive early,I like to be in the right frame of mind and I like to be able to be as relaxed as Pete can to take the scene in .
My tripod legs were playing up, they decide that they wanted o go to sleep on me and were slowly becoming less and did i have the tool to tighten them with me??? I must remember to leave this tool in my bag. The bag is becoming heavier and heavier. It is amazing how all the “little” things add so much bulk to your camera bag. I’m trying to cut down what I carry and when I think I have nailed it, things are added to the bag. That’s crazy is it not ?
Like with most of the sessions thus far, the final images make their statement and for me, it is God saying,’ Have one last look tonight of the free gift that you have and remember this. ” For me it is the lessons of life that come from moments like this. We all get so caught up with things that are not so important in life in the bigger picture of life.
If our health was to take a turn for the worse, we quickly work out what is important in our lives, we quickly see the futile things that we saw as important and we soon learn that the politics of life, being proud when we should be humble all come to the forefront and we finally get it.
My question is, why wait until that moment , take that out look now and we will start living in ways that we thought not possible deep within us as we would gain a clarity of peace that we thought couldn’t have been found before. When I’m out here, these are some of the things that I’m taught when I share the same air to breathe with the Tree of Solitude.
Never did I think that two nights in a row I would be blessed with another stunning sunset. It wasn’t just myself that was blessed but most of Adelaide and Yorke Peninsula with what I have seen on social media. I think it is wonderful that people of all ages can appreciate the wonder of nature.
Social media tonight has been bombarded with pics ranging from elaborate cameras through to the iphone. The pics were either taken from a ones back yard through to shots that were well planned.Pics were composed with thought and others were snapped with roofs, power lines etc in them. But it doesn’t matter as for me, what the over riding factor is, is that people were in awe with what they witnessed and ones spontaneous reaction is to get the camera out, the phone out and to snap away. It’s awesome that people feel compelled to snap away when they see creation at its best.It also displays that people still love the majestic scenes that we are presented each morning and evening when the sun either rises or sets.
Tonight I loved the lead up as much as the sunset itself.The skies were rocking, the skies were moving and the skies were alive and full of vitality and the dance was endless.
I take heart that people are moved by the immeasurable beauty that deep down we all adore which moves us.
Most will never see the dramatic change within an hour, hence one of the reasons of this project. In an hour light changes dramatically and within that change, moods are always changing, meaning changes and purpose changes and your taken on a journey that will always inspire you and cause emotions to stir and kindle a sense of awe which goes deep within us.The skies will always dance and the dance is eternal and never ending.Light is never constant, it is always changing and with that change comes life.
It doesn’t matter of you don’t achieve what you thought might happen when you are photographing. Tonight at the Solitude Tree it had the potential to fire up and lite the sky from one end of the earth to the other side. All the ingredients were there but it didn’t happen. Having said that I’m still happy with the moody shot that I still captured and there are times when you don’t get what you were hoping for and that’s like life.
You may not get what you were hoping for and yet, down the track you’ll be able to reflect back on that moment and see why. It doesn’t take the pain away of it was something that you had your heart set on but you will be wiser for it in time.
The Solitude Tree is like that for me. I see it almost every day and in many ways it is becoming my own crazy sense of communion with God. I stand and observe, I have chats with Him and in the process of all that, many things are revealed to me. There are times when it can be very emotional while there.
There are things that I still don’t understand within my own life in what has taken place, I have no answers for it, no answers for the special people whom I’ve lost over time, for the things that seemed certain that are no longer, for the promises made to you and yet in a flash, they are no more but what I do know is that life is to be live in fullness now. Letting go of the past is hard and yet vital for your survival.
Change is all around us. Nothing stays the same. The Solitude is an example of that. These images were taken on the same morning and they were only 20 minutes from the first image to the last image that was taken.
I went there hoping for a rainbow as things were coming together but it didn’t happen but thats ok, as in the context of time, there is another day. What I like about the first image as it hit me harder than ever before, is that no matter how dark things may appear to you, there is always a strip of light waiting to burst through. All you need to do is allow it in and the more you allow in, the brighter it will get.
You may have the shadowy areas appearing every now and again and that is life. No one has it all together. Many people may give that appearance but nothing could be further from the truth. We all have our difficult moments in life and yes, some have more than others.
None of us are exempt from it as this is life. This is how it is for all of us but the dark times don;t have to remain dark as we have choices to allow the light in. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be the shadows of life hanging around every now and again as that’slife but over time, the light will become more pronounced.
We just need to be open to it. I myself had a troubled childhood. My father was an alcoholic and at the age of 16 I found out that he wasn’t my birth father but rather the uncle I knew all of my life was my real father. My life is complicated but I share this just to let you know my writings are not based a pie in the sky stuff but come from deep within as like others, I’ve had my dark times.
At the age of 14 I made a promise to myself and God that I would never drink alcohol and to this day I haven’t. When you see the very dark side of it, and you see how the the media glorifies it and you know what happens behind closed doors, well that gives you a totally different out look on things in that area.
At the end of the day it is up to us to allow the light to take control and to move forward.
We are the ones that can control our own state of being to a point and if we can be strong end, we can turn our own mental state around. What I went through as a child I would not want to wish on anyone but at the end of the day, I took on the attitude that I wasn’t going to allow that to reflect on a negative attitude to life.
The final picture of the day, although not spectacular, signifies to me, we’ll always have the shadowy areas in our lives that we need to work on but overall, the light will dominate if we allow it and it will be splashed with form, light, texture and life.
On this night I went to see that The Solitude is doing. It was cold, freezing but I felt compelled to check it out. At this time of the year the sun sets to the far right of the tree and is not in the shot. If the sunset is dramatic enough, it will splash the colour across the skies.Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.
On this night it wasn’t dramatic but more gentle in its arrangement of colour and texture.
The seasons change and over the summer I have had brown grasses, they have all gone and all that lies there is dirt and with a touch of green coming through. Winter will bring its own delights and that is why I love photography as every season will bring you different clolors and with that comes different emotions.
It’s the simple things that bring me the greatest pleasure in life. You don’t have to spend anything but your time to enjoy what is above you. I’m loving my time with The Solitude Tree as I see it in all sorts of light. There are still some emotions that I still need to capture with The Solitude Tree that hasn’t happened as yet, but thats ok as it is always great to be standing out there and simply observing .
Have you ever stood in one spot for an hour or two and just opened your eyes to see what is happening around you? Not many people do. Photographers who are patient will understand what I’m referring to.
It’s when you are in one spot, knowing that you can’t move as you are waiting for the moment, that will encapsulate what you are hoping to capture. Sometimes that happens and other times, it an endurance test. As I stand there my eyes are always looking around, on the ground, above me, scouting the horizon and you’ll be amazed at what you see when you have nothing else to do. It’s rewarding on so many levels. You’ll also be surprised what is moving around your feet as most of us tend not to look on the ground.
I’m ever grateful that I have a deep love for the skies. Many will think it strange but for me , it’s just so inspiring to look skyward to see His canvas everyday.That’s the awesome beauty about what is above us, although it is above us, from a photography point of view, it actually make the picture complete in my eyes. Think of the many awesome photographs that are of landscapes that leave a lasting impression on you and would have an awesome sky which you may not even be aware of. Food for thought.
Winter is fast approaching and the rainbow has alluded me to this point in time. There is s slight green tinge coming through and in time this field will be an intense green as no crops have been planted for this season. As time go on I hope to be able to score more that one rainbow here but one has to be here at the right time of day. For the rainbow to appear over the tree, I need it to rain in the morning and for the sun to pop out and if that happens, then getting my rainbow will be an event that I will never take for granted.
I never get sick of seeing the rainbow, no matter what shape or form that it takes as it is a sign given to us from above. I know we all see life differently and I do respect that but from my point of view, I see it as God’s promise that he will never flood the earth again. This is written in the old book. ( The Bible) This is why He sent the rainbow to us as his sign . It’s a free gift to admire and whether we believe that or not, you still get to enjoy the awesome rainbow that forms when the elements come together at the right time.
Since my last posting the winter has come, the field is now green, no crops have been planted this year and the skies are ever changing.I shot this as I liked the semi silhouette of the tree against the sky with the foreground not lit up. As the afternoon went on the sun did come out and the grass was vivid green but I chose this because the sky was much better. I actually also did some time lapse photography ( which I have been doing all year thus far) here but sadly I had a wrong setting on the camera and it was just too hard to correct.I stuffed up but there is another day that is before me.
What was happening in this picture was the low cloud was moving from left to right and the light whispering cloud was moving right to left on a 45 degree angle. It was awesome to see both levels of cloud moving in different directions.
It also reminded me of that fact that many see the clouds and just assume that they are either standing still or moving the same way. I still have just under half the year to go to record the time lapse to show you this as it is fascinating.
It’s a bit like life don’t you think. Sometimes we think we are heading in one direction but behind the scenes, we are being shown another direction to go and it is up to use whether we go with that or continue on our path.
For me personally I’m heading in one direction but I know deep inside there is another direction for me and the tide is going like this cloud which is before me.
I will change to the direction that I think I’m being pulled in but it is knowing the right time to take it. I do know that it is getting closer and closer. Time will reveal that. I’m a firm believer when the door shuts for you, you don;t force it open, you wait for the next door. I know for myself the door to what I have always done is slowly closing and the other other door is slowly opening and it is giving me a glimpse of what could be.
Light is always changing and so are the clouds.Different clouds will deliver different emotions, different textures are not better than the other.Some will appeal to others more but that is the nature of photography, the nature of the skies.
For me, I love them no matter how they are exposed to be me. The skies deliver so much emotion to myself and this morning was no different.
I spent the hour doing time lapse there and as I stood there, I felt every blessed to see the Solitude Tree being static as the clouds were dancing around it. Wanting to play and dance was the order of the day. Creeping shadows added to the different elements of the morning. Spring is in the air and what will be next is anyone guess.
In the last 48 hours Adelaide has had a lot of rain, hail and storms. The aoumt of water that has fallen from the heavens has been significant. Creeks have broken their banks, cars have been sweept away with people trying to cross the flooded rivers when they should not have.
Today I went to the Solitude Tree, hoping to do some time lapse photography but it was not possible. I was only able to shoot a handful of pics and the time lapse , I started it but with the wind was howling I don’t think it will come out to well as the camera was vibrating with the howling wind.
While I was getting a few still pics in, I couldn’t help but think of all of the winters that this tree has endured, all of the storms that it has endured and yet, it still stands. Over the course of time, I’m sure it has lost a few limbs but still it stands.
Standing in my shorts( and yes my legs were a little cold ) in my spot I could but see the tree at times, leaning high up, at full stretch and yet, it still look at home with itself.
In a day or two the strong winds will stop and life for this tree will get back to some normality.
In our life we have the storms that come and go, the tough times when we think everyone is against us and we have to dig deep to keep going, to keep our heads above the water line.
Today was a reminder for me that in the midst of the storm, there will come a time when it passes and the tree goes back to enjoying the things around it and likewise with us, the storms come and they might rage for some time but there comes a time when the storm passes and our lives will move to the next phase of our life.We just have to be patient and await the change that may be before us.
These images were taken in extremely strong winds and there were times it was hard to stand still and point the camera without being blown about. Such is life at the Solitude tree.
The great thing about Photography is that it’s unpredictable as the light is always changing and when you think that nothing is going to happen, the light makes you re think again and again. The next series of pictures were taken with 30 minutes of each other.
When you have the clouds, winds and changing light, the results are always going to be inspiring. What I have learnt over the years of taking pictures is that you should never have the attitude that nothing is going to happen.Well many years of taking pictures has taught me that anything is possible if you are patient enough.
If you are prepared to sit and wait to see what might happen, then you will be surprised for most of the time. If nothing happens and things don’t change, its not a waste of time as it gives you a time to be out doors and to sit and reflect on life. Life can be so busy that often we don’t sit and reflect on life but with photography you can.
There are moments while photographing the Solitude when you are there just at the right time. This next series of shots I feel are some of the best that I have taken of the tree. I arrived and it was raining on and off and i decide to simply stay to see what would happened. There were light showers, nothing heavy and it as too long that these amazing awesomeskies made their presence felt. .
They were breath taking and full of so much form and texture and the body of the cloud was a delight to take. It is moments like this that you wonder when is it the best time to shoot as every passing minute things were changing before your eyes, the light, the form of the clouds , the gaps and so on.All of these elements were giving me some of the best moments with this tree. I just kept clicking away and then I stood still for a few moments to take it all in. She stands there so graceful and who know how long the tree has been standing but it has endured many storms, blistering summers and the extreme cold of the winter. Yet the tree still survives.
There are so many wonderful shots that came out of the session with The Solitude but if I have a favorite then this is it. It embodies all that I’m looking for in a shot like this. I love the long shadows in the foreground and these for me add to the picture and they symbolize the darkness and yet beyond the darkness of life we have the light and when we see the light we will see life ona far better and uplifting way.
What I loved about this session was the changing light and what they created along with the shadows in the foreground.I did timelapse here on this day and I have seen it and it really shows you well the direction of the cloud and how things are moving is all sorts of directions.
A little time has passed as I have been away running my own Photo Tours and now I’m seeing the sun gradually making its way back to The Solitude Tree. At the time of writing this it is setting way to the right of the tree and in a few months the sun will be behind the tree once again.I can’t wait for that time.
I’m amazed that the ground is still so green. At this time of year things are browning off as the warmer weather is on the way. Over the coming months, I hope to get lightning behind the The Solitude Tree. We don’t get a lot of lightning in Adelaide and when it does happen over the summer, I’m usually away on assignment. I so hope that this year I might be able to capture lightning over it.
On this night the skies were going off. I took my time lapse gear but sadly I had some issues with it and that wasn’t possible. So there was one shot that I got in and this is it. The light was always changing, the clouds were awesome and a stormed rolled in and this would have been awesome on the time lapse but this wasn’t to be. Not everything goes to plan and as I said to myself at the time, ” There is always tomorrow” and so I will wait for the next time to do my timelapse over The Solitude Tree.
This image was taken in camera using a 3 stop ND Grad Filter. The same things can be done in post production but wherever I can, I try to get as much right in camera as possible.
This morning there had been rain on and off. I drove there hoping to get a full rainbow above The Solitude Tree. As I drove there the rainbow was there the whole way. I kept looking skyward with and occasionally watching the road. When I arrive I missed it by 10 seconds and things changed ever so quickly. It doesn’t always turn out the way you thought the shot might. I still hung about and the images for this segment were still worthy to be added in.
There are times when you can never predict a sunset and how it is going to explored and give you something that you never thought was possible. Tonight was just one of those nights.
It was a warmish evening, warmer than what is expected at this time of year and usually when that happens the results have the potential to be amazing. On this night the colours were trying to burst through but just were strong enough but the pleasant surprise came in how the colours made their presence felt.The picture above was how it started out. When Vicki and i arrived there, this is what we saw. The rain came and most would pack up and go and I trued to Vicki and said” It;s times like this, you just need to stick around as after the rain clears, you never know what lies behind it.”
As the evening went on, little did we know what we were going to be blessed with. As the night was drawing to a close, the greys and blues were the predominate colours and it finished the way it started. This is amazing and comforting place for me and later I will reveal why.
The conditions where ideal for something special to take place. It was 30C, hot northerly winds and we drove to the Solitude Tree and when we arrived , like the previous trip, it was grey and over time things changed and we were once again blessed with colours that only God himself could throw together in the way he does.
As I mentioned on the previous entry , there are times that you just don’t know what is going to take place.
When I arrive at a spot for sunset or sunrise, there are times when I think I know what is going to take place. As we drove to this place , I turned to Vicki and said” This has massive potential to really go off. As long as you have a gap on the horizon, it mans that anything is possible.
Even if there is no gap, you can be wonderfully surprised as there still might be a gap that you can’t see. Therefore you never leave the spot until you are sure that the sun has well and truly gone. If nothing has not happened 10-15minurs after the sun have gone down , then it won’t.
What follows next is a cross section showing you the progression of the evening.The colours were always changing and during the course of the evening I was able to get the timelapse happening on the camera which I was delighted with.
A little time has passed as I have been away a lot of late. When I get back from running my Photo Tour workshops and day workshops I always look forward in visiting this tree. Throughout the course of the year, this simple tree with the cows in its field has become a place of refuge. There are times when I have come here and no picture has been taken or the conditions are not right but it is always still good to be here. What amazes me and I don’t post everything that I have seen here in the course of the year but I often wonder if this tree could talk, the stories that it could tell. It stands their and no matter what the weather throws up at it, it is still there. It survives and has stood the passage of time.
I’m approaching the end of the year and the one thing that I have not shot above it is lightning. The time that lightning has been in Adelaide I have been away. Hence I will be extending my time with the Solitude Tree until that time comes. Even when the project has been completed, I think this is in my soul and if the weather conditions are dramatic, I think I will be called to this tree time and time again.
One would think that I would become sick of paying The Solitude Tree a visit. No way, every time I arrive there, there is always a gentle sky hovering over head and my soul feels at peace and it’s a peace that I don’t have any words for. I wish I had a place that when I looked out the window, I could see such a tree. Maybe in the future that will take place. Time will be the answerto that thought.
Sometimes I have been asked how long to I spend at the time at any given time. It all depends what is happening above, it always depends how I’m feeling at the time and it also depends how windy it is.
The only place that I can park is under a tree and if it is very windy, it worries me that a massive bow from the tree will come crashing down upon myself. The tress where I’m parked are massive and if one bow was to come crashing to the ground, then that would be the end of me.
Having said the above, on average I’m there between 1-2 hours at a time time. Some may think this is a long time but it really isn’t. When you spend time long enough at one place and sit there for a while and obsrve what is going on above you, in front of you, to the sides and even beneath you, you’ll be surprised how the time goes so quickly and what you are exposed to.
So why this picture?
During…… To be continued…
When I visit The Solitude Tree I never know what is going to happen. You hope for the dramatic sunset and that doesn’t always happen but when it does when you least expect it, it always sends a shiver down my spine. I love the glow that is reflected back into one’s face, I love how the intense golden colors light up everything that is in front of it. I also adore the reflective light and what it does behind me. When I stand it’s too hard to shoot behind me but some times, what is happening behind is more dramatic and intense that what is happening in front of me.
Jan 12 2018
Two things that this photography thing has taught me over 30 plus years that is that nothing is ever predicable and if you spend time in a place, you will always be amazed how things can change in the course of the time that you are there. These shots were all taken on the same day . I know I have said this point before but it still excites me to the core to know the unpredictability of photography is predictable .
Summer can bring in a few wonderful unexpected storms. The one thing that I’m longing for over The Solitude Tree is lightning. This has alluded me thus far. When I’m not here the lightning makes it’s presence felt, when I’m here it’s just not happening. The other night there was a small storm that came across. At 2 am I heard the thunder. I fell oout of bed, fell outside and by the time all that happened which was not long, the thunder stopped and there was no lightning to be seen my way. I heard later on the flats of Adelaide they had some patches of lightning but nothing dramatic. So the waiting game is on and do I have the patience to wait, sure do.
To have such an arrangement in colour explosions to dark stormy clouds in the one afternoon through to the evening is something hat will always leave me in awe.