The Mysterious Tree
You may saw this red maple tree photograph many times before. It was nicknamed – The Tree of Life or Zen Tree. And sometimes – Peter Lik Tree of Life. And while admiring its marvellous symmetry and form, you were wondering about its story and its connection to Peter Lik.
Before 2010 few photographers and local residents of Portland knew about it. The Japanese Garden of Portland planted this tree back in the 60s when it was just 20 years old at a time. It makes it approximately 80 years old today. Before Lik’s successful introduction, locals and some garden visitors were the lucky few who met it and could take it home as a wall calendar or a postcard.
The tree got its first significant publicity boost in 2010 when Peter Lik introduced the first photograph featuring this tree. The glorious red crown and spreading branches resembling a lightning strike or a human body’s vascular structure have made it a significant attraction at Lik’s galleries.
Since that time, Peter Lik has produced many other titles featuring this tree, such as Inner Peace, Tree of Beauty, Autumn Spirit, Tree of Life & Enchanted Heart. Millions of tourists visiting Las Vegas, Maui, or other coastal towns of California could catch a glimpse of this tree in one of Lik’s photographs.
Once the tree images spread over social networks, many other photographers started to look for this tree. And sure enough word of mouth drove thousands of visitors to the garden. The publicity caused a virtual competition among photographers who flocked to the garden for the perfect photo of this red maple tree. The tree is picky, however. One may have to pay many visits to catch the perfect combination of the state of the foliage, the light, and the weather.
The Red Maple Tree is Not Always Red
I visited the garden many times myself, and each time the tree looked different. In the humid years, a thick creamy layer of emerald moss covers its trunk and branches. The cold and damp fall of 2016 made it drop all its leaves early. That was a surely disappointing visit. Next summer, I was lucky to get a shot that resulted in the “Zen in the Sunshine” piece.
But I was not content as the red is what I was after. A few years have passed, and I have finally caught a splendid red torch of the crown during my next visit. I didn’t spare the battery in my camera and the space of every memory card in my bag, shooting away every square inch of it. The result was the Spirit of the Earth. A marvellous 300-megapixel beauty that is, unfortunately, at the very end of its production run.
Symbolism and Significance
Beyond their aesthetic appeal, red maple trees hold symbolic meaning in various cultures. In many Asian traditions, they represent strength, endurance, and transformation. Photographs of this tree in its prime beautifully encapsulate these qualities, making us ponder the fleeting nature of life. The resilience required to adapt and grow. The red maple tree becomes a powerful metaphor for our own journeys. Reminding us to embrace change and find beauty even in the most challenging times.
The Artistry of Composition
Photographers who specialize in landscape photography understand the importance of composition in conveying the tree’s majestic beauty. The graceful curves of branches and the delicate texture of leaves become elements of artistic expression. By carefully framing the shot, playing with depth of field, and using creative angles, I tried to capture the essence of this red maple tree and invite viewers to immerse themselves in its splendour.
Having the Red Maple Tree Photo in Your Home
Many of my customers and friends were asking about the red maple tree photograph. I have produced this piece for my customers in various shapes and sizes. Each time, I get thrilled by its beauty. It truly is a wonder of nature. I will definitely go back to see and photograph it again.
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