It is a couple of weeks since I last visited the lone silver birch tree, and the bright green leaves are more vibrant and vigorous.  There is a brisk breeze at times and the canopy ripples with movement each time a gust envelops it.  I decide to continue where I left off after the last visit.  Then, I had come to the view the images I had taken during my PhD of the tree were more focused on the singularity of Being – what it was like to Be that tree.  They were more about interiority than what lies beyond and around.  And, unlike my work with the reeds and the water lilies, it was less about its connections with the objects around it.  While I was making the connections between the reeds and the water, the reflections, and the skies above, it was not as explicit with the birch tree.  This may be because I tend to view the tree as “lone” in that it is not part of a clump of trees or wood, but it does have a small group of its own kind further down the hill.  In terms of its immediate environment, it is encircled by the Red Hills and in the distance are the Black Cuillin that are responsible for the harsh and hostile weather that frequently pummels the fragile tree.  The waters of Loch Cill Chriosd are close by too.

My plan is to continue with multiple exposure work and rather than focusing entirely on the tree as I have in most of my images, I will try to give a sense of its entanglement and relationships with other objects around and about.  As I work trying to capture the energy in the tree’s canopy, I also make sure that the ridge of the Black Cuillin and the edge of the Red Hills are in view.  This means a careful placing of the tripod as there are few viewing points where both can be captured in one image.   While I normally favour using a 70-200mm lens that reduces the apparent distance between the back and front of the image, I am using a 24-70mm instead which gives more flexibility to stand close to the tree but in doing so means that the distance between the tree and the Black Cuillin appears further.  I begin to think about the dynamic nature of the tree’s canopy in contrast with the permanence of the jagged basalt rock of the Cuillin.  The three exposures merged together in the camera emphasise the rigidity and flexibility of the scene.

As I work, I think about the words of Nan Shepherd:

“Birch trees are least beautiful when fully clothed.  Exquisite when the opening leaves just fleck them with points of green flame, or the thinning leaves turn them to a golden lace, they are loveliest of all when naked.”  (Shepherd 1977 p53).

Her words are indeed true.  I have spent many hours taking the lone tree in winter when its trunk and the shape and form of the canopy are exposed, in late autumn when the glints of orange and umber light up the skies, and in spring when the shoots begin to emerge from the dormancy of winter.

Collaborative Practice 42 – Alison Price, October 2022

Among Trees 16 – Alison Price, January 2021

Winter Impressions 8 – Alison Price, November 2020

The Lone Tree 1 – Alison Price, 2019

The Lone Tree 4 – Alison Price, 2019

As for today’s shoot, there is more reflection and work to be done to achieve a greater sense of entanglement in the context of the lone silver birch tree but here is an image captured today.

Practice Period 13.30 – Alison Price, May 2023



Shepherd, N. 1977.  The Living Mountain.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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