Trees or even better, a single tree, can be wonderful subjects for your travel photographs.
Trees can be the main element in a composition or just part of it. On our travels, we’re always on the lookout for interesting trees in beautiful locations. When I first saw the photo of the tree above on the internet, I was determined to find its location. I knew that it was somewhere in Tuscany but that was about it. After much sleuthing I got a tip that this tree might be located on a rural road not far from the charming medieval town of Pienza which is the base for our yearly Tuscany Photo Tour. I found the road on Google Earth and following it, I came upon a round green object on top of a hill and thought that this might be the tree in question. Sure enough, a couple months later when we went back to Tuscany we found it.
We’ve been photographing this tree for many years by now, with puffy clouds, dramatic skies, wheat, clover or bare brown soil leading up to the tree and then, last year, we met the “owner” of the tree – a friendly organic farmer who asked us if we liked his “plant.” Yes, we love his “plant.”
Another spot that’s not easy to find since it’s not a very obvious scene, is this row of chestnut trees in the southwest of the Czech Republic. Only photographers know of and bother to find this spot which reveals it’s beauty seen through a long lens.
One of our favorite locations to photograph trees is in Tuscany, especially in May when the fields are at their greenest and the weather is pleasant and mild. The cypress grove below in a rolling field of wheat is a classic destination and is perhaps one of the most photographed scenes in all of Tuscany – and for good reason. The grove of trees really makes this composition work. The field is great but without the cluster of cypresses it would not be nearly as compelling.
This scene is so popular that it’s now copyrighted and can’t be used for commercial purposes. No more air freshener or toothpaste commercials with these cypresses in the background.
Also in Tuscany, not far from the cypress grove, is another great location which we recently added to our repertoire. This curvaceous road lined with cypresses and leading up to a large farm compound makes for a great photo op. We appreciate that the Tuscans plant these amazing trees throughout the region, giving it its distinct visual flavor.
The image below, also in Tuscany, also illustrates a composition where the trees share equal importance with another element, the windy road. Both elements together and the glowing light of the setting sun make this image successful.
Provence in the south of France is another area where we find beautiful trees, especially on the Valensole Plateau. Each year, we spend a bit of time photographing the luscious lavender fields on our Provence Photo Tour. The blooming lavender is amazing to photograph but we usually like to include additional elements in the composition to really make the photos special. Trees are one of those elements and they are not plentiful in this area. You can imagine that we have those precious locations saved and backed up on our GPS!
All the images so far were taken in the countryside but trees also work well as compositional elements in urban areas.
The first image below was taken on a rainy night under the Charles Bridge in Prague during our Prague & Czech Republic Photo Tour. The silhouette of the tree really adds to this composition. The image below it was taken in the quaint seaside town of Rovinj, which is the first location we visit on our Slovenia & Croatia Photo Tour. This is a blue hour image taken about 30 minutes past sunset with a 30 second exposure. It’s razor sharp so you can imagine how still it was. The tree was illuminated by spot lights from below.
We love trees as compositional elements, for their beauty and visual interest. Eckhart Tolle adds yet another dimension: “When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself.” We find that photography in general can have this kind of meditative effect as we take our time and pay careful attention to our surroundings when composing an image.
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|Jim and Magrit have been photographing professionally and traveling in Europe for the past 20 years.
They started Photography Travel Tours in 2011 with the goal of educating and guiding photographers to some of the most beautiful and iconic scenes in Europe.
The tours are not just about getting great photographs but also have the side benefits of doing so in wonderful environments. Great food, wine, people, and ambiance.
Read more about Jim & Magrit and their wonderful photo tours here: (http://photographytraveltours.com/about/).
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.