Beth Moon

Diamond Nights
December 1 — 31, 2019

My work photographing trees began in 1999, when I set out to record the lives of some of the oldest trees from various parts of the world. I usually photographed in the early morning light or caught the sun low in the sky as it was about to set. Rarely did I give thought to the hours after dusk.

When I learned of two interesting studies that correlated tree growth with celestial activity, I began to see trees in a new way, imagining them as a type of conduit; giant antennas that were able to send and receive earth and stellar energies. These insights reminded me of how interwoven all relationships are in the natural world, where it is impossible to examine a single phenomenon without finding links to everything else.

Long exposures taken during the night captured this relationship. The challenge was to find ancient trees in areas away from light pollution for the clearest skies.  I was planning a trip to the southern countries of Africa at the time, so decided to photograph instead during the hours of darkness under starlight.

Instead of seeking individual trees, I considered tree species in general. Trees featured in this work are baobabs, quiver trees, bristlecone pines, juniper trees, olive trees, Joshua trees, sequoias, chestnuts, and oaks.

Often, I would determine the best viewpoints during the day and mark the locations with rocks. Other times I would set up at dusk and wait. Each location required considerable experimentation and different lighting techniques.

This work marked the transition not only from film to digital capture, but also from black-and-white to color. In a long exposure, the camera continuously records data, stacking the light as it falls on the sensor, which in essence allows us to see the passing of time that we wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye. The vibrant range of extended colors the camera was recording proved to be an integral part of the process.

These images chart my own fascination with the wonders of our universe and are intended to invite viewers into a mysterious, abstract world. The ancient Greeks and Romans named the stars and constellations after varied symbols and creatures, reflecting the richness of human imagination. I have adopted these names as titles to the images in this book. The stars and constellations referenced in the titles are not necessarily visible in the images; instead, I hope the titles will serve to inspire the viewer’s imagination