Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Class is in session

I'm a sucker for a lovely Sycamore tree. Glorious textured, shedding bark reveals a gleaming white, smooth surface beneath. Shades of browns, greens and grays frame the white in my idea of irregular perfection.

A Sycamore can be spotted miles away during the winter months with ease because the crown of the tree is mostly stark white. Their leaves are massive, shaped roughly like a maple leaf. After they drop in autumn you'll find them curled up like a baby ready for winter's sleep, and they're a beautiful chocolate brown that is soft, almost like velvet.

This particular Sycamore tree is located in a pretty little side yard of our local community college. I signed up for a couple of classes - one on digital photography, the other on Photoshop CS3. Being self-taught I recognize fully that I need to fill in the blanks and round out the edges of my knowledge. Last week we took some new-found skills outside and played in the courtyard. There, in the setting sun was this glorious, glowing Sycamore just waiting for me.

Sycamore trees have a fascinating way of exposing their beauty. Yes, their trunks are stunning, especially in autumn with a cobalt blue sky behind them. The shot, above, was taken during an autumn run to a local nursery and you can see how striking the trunk of the Sycamore is as compared to the other trees. Sycamore tree roots have the same characteristics as the rest of the tree. Rising above the ground in various and sundry fascinating patterns are these tree roots. These roots are no doubt the bane of some grounds maintenance guy, but for a photographer this is sheer heaven.

This is one of my favorite shots - and I haven't even turned it in to teacher yet. These exposed roots are just like the tree itself, with a trunk and branches. Reading about Sycamores on Wikipedia, I learned that every tree's bark must expand as the tree grows, but Shagbark Hickory, some maples and the Sycamore are examples of those who exhibit that process more openly than others. Apparently, it is due to the rigid texture of their bark which lacks the necessary component to expand that creates the shagginess.

It's nice learning about tree structures and the like, but basically the draw for me is the outward personality and character of a Sycamore. They're different, and they glow in the sunset and are such fun to photograph.


Threadspider said...

Oh, what a glorious tree. The bark is truly lovely, especially that flaky texture.
It was nice to see your picture on yesterday's post too. That sounds like it was a great day.

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Fantastic article! I too like the photo of the roots- it does look like the tree. Great capture! I enjoyed learning about why the Sycamore seems to shed its bark- as well as what causes the shagginess of the Shagbark Hickory. Very cool!

Karen Hall said...

Beautiful shots of lovely trees

jodi said...

What a tender tribute to a lovely tree, Debi! I really enjoyed this post, but then I've never read one that you wrote that didn't move me. I'm still more besotted by the buckeyes, though. ;-)

Dan said...

This is a great post and some very interesting tree images. I also enjoy both trees and photography.

Sandpiper said...

Fantastic post and great pictures. I have a Sycamore in my backyard that I love! The bark is so interesting. You have a great blog here.

wcgillian said...

These are very well done! I love the root shot!


Naturegirl said...

This post was very interesting..I've never seen one close up! Thank you for the lesson!
hugs NG

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

Thanks everyone for your nice comments!

TS (aka Threadspider) - I thought of you when taking these pics, and knew that the textures would appeal to you my little fabric artist... xo!

Daniel - My nature buddy! - I knew you would like this and think about the science behind everything! I wish you guys would stick around in our neighborhood! !!! I'm already missing you all!!

Karen - Thanks for your nice comment!

Jodi - The Buckeyes are in full bloom so you just wait - a new Red Buckeye post is next. They are GLORIOUS now!!!

Dan - Welcome!!! I shall have to peruse your blog as well! Thanks for stopping here and leaving such nice thoughts...

Sandpiper - Welcome as well. It's so fun to make new friends. I must visit your blog and Dan's blog! Too much to do, so little time..

Randy - My man, thanks for coming around and leaving a nice comment. I'll be visiting your blog VERY soon!!! Thanks as well for allowing me to use some of your pieces for my Vision Board. You R Da Man!

Nature Girl - Ah, honey, there you are in God's Country - also known as Arizona - and taking the time to visit here? Please, enjoy the desert for those of us who cannot be there. It's a glorious place in a special season. I envy you!

Thanks everyone for visiting and saying such nice things - Debi

Anonymous said...

What an interesting post. I"ve never seen a sycamore tree though I've certainly heard about them. I too love that bottom photo. I am always taking photos of tree roots that crawl like that. I have one from Butchart Gardens that maybe I should post one day. Very interesting and enjoy your course!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic bark and that shot of the roots reaching out along the ground like the long fingers of a ghoul!
You've outdone yourself Debi. There are a couple of photo groups on flickr.com that would love these. I'll send you the links. These should be seen by the multitudes. I can see you're enjoying your class just a tiny bit. Hehehe.....

xoxo love ya!

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'm salivating at the thought of a post about those beloved Buckeyes of yours. You know how I love them.

chey said...

Such an interesting tree. Love the photos of the bark, as well as those roots! Really neat!


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