Travel photography narrows its focus on the world’s oldest arboreal wonders in Beth Moon’s newest book, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, a 104-page hardcover that catalogs Moon’s quest to immortalize the beauty of ancient trees in photographs. Her pursuit—inspired by the damage done to England’s Bowthorpe Oak after a storm—took her on a 14-year journey across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, encountering subjects that grew everywhere from remote mountainsides to the center of civilizations, from private estates to nature preserves. The San Francisco-based photographer created these prints using the platinum/palladium process, a method that allows the photographs (much like their subjects) to stand the test of time due to platinum’s decreased susceptibility to deterioration, while at the same time offers the greatest tonal range of any print method using chemical development. Sixty full-page duotones are accompanied by Moon’s narrative captions describing the natural and cultural history of each tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at the New York Botanical Garden, provides an introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. The result is a powerful and hauntingly beautiful account of some of the world’s oldest living relics—photographs that mesmerize with an enchanting, other-worldly appearance while connecting viewers to a mystical sense of time and nature.
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