Surreal Black and White Photos Immortalize Oldest Trees on Earth

For 'Portraits of Time,' Beth Moon spent 14 years capturing the Earth's most ancient survivors.

by Joost Mollen
Dec 17 2014, 3:00pm

"Island of the Dragon's Blood" by Beth Moon. Images courtesy the artist

A version of this article originally appeared on The Creators Project Netherlands. 

Few things on Earth are as old as the organisms in the photos of Beth Moon. For her book Portraits of Time (from Abbeville Press) the San Francisco-born photographer traveled around the world for 14 years, capturing the planet's longest-living trees (some of which also appeared in Susan Sussman's The Oldest Living Things in the World) in the hopes of helping humanity better protect and preserve these ancient survivors. "Most of the trees that I have photographed exist only because they are outside the reach of civilization," Moon writes on her website. "Some species exist, but only in a few of the most isolated places in the world."

To print Portraits of Time, the negatives underwent a lengthy and intensive in which iron oxide was mixed with ground palladium and platinum and then captured inside the actual printing paper. It's a photographic process whose results can last for centuries, incorporating Moon's themes of time and tradition into the final products themselves. It's all in the hopes that Moon's photos will contribute to the preservation of these giants of the time, so that our grandchildren can admire them—and not only from a picture.

"Off to Market"

"Rilke's Bayon"

"Bristle Cone Pine Relic"

"The Nantglyn Pulpit Yew"

"The Ifaty Teapot"

"The Bowthorpe Oak"

To learn more, and to order a copy of Portraits of Time, head over to Beth Moon's website


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