my wandering tree project

July 9th, 2009 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

Sometime last spring (spring 2008 that is), i decided, for some reason i no longer quite remember, to take some large branches i found in my parents yard and paint them white.. I figured they’d come in handy as props in some photos ; they did ultimately end up being the centerpiece in this photo here, taken in March 2009 :

Before reaching that conclusion , however, I lugged these “trees” around with me all last summer, propping them up in different locations (always at night), the farthest from my home being Jökulsárlón last August.

After driving all the way over there , timing my trip carefully  so as to end up there in the middle of the night, i was somewhat devastated that it was raining when i arrived there at 3 in the morning. But, since my plan of having the place to myself  had at least worked (the parking lot crowded with campers filled with sleeping tourists), i decided to wait out the rain, (sipping instant coffee with swissmiss and reading some stephen king novel by flashlight) Around 4:30 I donned rubber boots and lugged my trees down to the lagoon, carefully balancing them with large rocks in the freezing water. (seriously hoping nobody would wake up extra early and ask what on earth i was up to, probably would have appeared more than a little eccentric, which is of course the norm for me..)  Anyway, after so much effort, i couldn’t help being a bit dissapointed at how unremarkable the lake itself was,  with hardly any ice floating anywhere near the shore, which is unusual.  You win some, you lose some, i guess. I’m heading out that way next week, heard its quite spectacular right now.

For all the physical effort put into this series, i was ultimately not all that happy with it. Put all the pictures aside and pretty much forgot about them. While browsing thru archives on one of my hard-drives today, I figured i might as well share them now. Enjoy.

view of Breiðdalur , on the way to Kleifarvatn

view of Breiðdalur , on the way to Kleifarvatn

Kleifarvatn

Kleifarvatn

Hvaleyrarvatn

Hvaleyrarvatn

Álftanes

Álftanes

Kleifarvatn

Kleifarvatn

Reykjanes

Reykjanes

Kleifarvatn

Kleifarvatn

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

Read 31 comments

31 comments for this post

I take you for granted that the surrealism of the trees within their environment is intended… ;)

beautific.

Really beautiful project! Nice shots.

best regards
V.

Great project! I like the atmosphere in your work very much!

outstanding piece of work, very insperatioanl!
keep up the awesome work!

Devilllle wrote on July 10th, 2009

Rebekka I have no idea how you managed to lug these around on your own – the look enormous!! How big were they? My favourite is definitely the one you posted on flickr – how long was the exposure?

Wow – I’d love to be able to get work I was this unhappy with! :) Love the use of such simple props to get such brilliant images – great work.

the one i posted on flickr was approx 100 sec exposure, if i remember correctly..
and well, you can see how big they are in the top picture where i’m standing next to them… the largest one was only used in that picture tho.. i’d guess the smaller ones are only about 12 and 15 kg, respectively.
(and i’ve been lifting weights for 13 years so carrying around some big branches didn’t strike me as very challenging)

ralph n. wrote on July 10th, 2009

Wow, Rebekka – I give you so much credit for all of that effort, in addition to the beautiful photos. Fantastic work my friend.

I think these are wonderful! Especially if only one or two were published, I’d say they would be particularly mysteriously interesting.

Well, must admit, I too read your blog :-)
I really like this set (along with the painted stones you did). What I really like though, is that you’re not happy with what is a perfectly acceptable set of pictures; striving for perfection is a strong quality that actually shines through most of your work.
As a photojournalist these images aren’t my cup of tea, however I’m finding a real appreciation for them; fabulous.
I’d also add that the images called Álftanes, Kleifarvatn & Jökulsárlón do work rather well.

I like the Jökulsárlón image the best. The tones and the snow in the background make it seem most desolate. I wish we had brighter midnights here in the U.S., I love reading about your treks-at-any-and-all-hours-of-the-morning. (;

Love the concept. I saw some landscapes someone did, where they placed a chair in the forground in each of the images and have been thinkng about something similar in concept, nice to see you have done something similar.

Just need to think of something that isn’t a tree and isn’t a chair I suppose.

On another note. Last week I could read your blog at work, as of today it comes up as a banned site. The reason it being porographic allegedly.

Oh well, just have to look at it at home then!!!!

I think the pictures work particularly well in the context of a set like this. If I had to pick I favourite I think I’d go with Kleifarvatn, just because the trees are more dominant, but all are worthwhile.

Haha, you’re own litle happy trees…like Bob Ross.
I like this a lot, great job.
Greetings.

But this is why you are an artist! :)

Season wrote on July 11th, 2009

you took these trees in different location!

great,did you do it yourself? or you have team to help you?

Your dedicate is to be admired, not only painting them but lugging them around! I especially love the ‘Reykjanes’ shot, just wonderfully serene :)

@season: i’ve never had any kind of team help me with any of my photos. I’m a die hard do-it-yourselfer..

You’re crazy, you got in that freezing cold lake to “plant” the trees on :P
‘nyways, I really like the last one :)

You could Photoshop the trees in (would not require lugging them around). However, it would take a lot of “tweeking” to get the same effects. I like the photos as they are and am so jealous of Iceland’s awesome settings.

Well. “photoshopping” things into images isn’t even remotely similar to doing things for real… Well, for me at least. The process is a completely vital part of the artwork, its not just about the finished outcome .. While going thru trouble setting up shots, you get certain insights and ideas that wouldn’t occur when you’re just sitting indoors pasting images together on a computer screen..
Maybe its ironic that i have this very firm stand against faking things in photoshop when i do, of course, use the program for editing all my shots afterward. I just don’t want to use it to do things that CAN be done for real. Just as a final touch, to tweak colors and such. Of course i often combine elements from two frames shot in the same location, for my double self-portraits for instance, but that’s still not the same as placing something in a photo that was never there to begin with. That’s a line i’ve drawn that i’m quite set on not crossing ;)

Yet another stunning, visual essay! I could go on-and-on about ‘underlying narratives’, ‘apparent allegories’, theorizing on what I should be ‘seeing’ — like some Jungian analyst — but won’t. Isn’t it enough to just like what I see? I think, yes! And you present much to be appreciated.

c’est une super idée. en voyant vos photos je ne peux que penser à une légende bretonne. l’arbre d’or.

très beau travail.

After visiting Iceland this summer I’m even more impresed of your work: you take a lot of effort driving to the locations (now that I know the real distances I can appreciate the time it takes) and then you setup the place (knowing the temperature of the water, I know i wouldn’t do it).
Congrats!

BTW, your country is beautiful (… as well as the people living there).

Raffaele wrote on August 18th, 2009

Wonderful project, I like this kind of pictures, you are a Muse

this is the first time I’ve seen all these together, Bekka … I absolutely love them. Alone, they’re good of course, but together like this they’re amazing.

They are pure magic.

You are so magic… all your photo have something that capture the soul in a magic trip…
Great!!!

It may not have been what you wanted it to end up being, but I like the series for itself. I feel like I’m looking at the (very nice) vacation snaps of a couple of trees, out to see the world for themselves. Uprooted and traveling hither and yon. I made my way here after seeing an update from Ryan Brenizer saying that he was looking forward to meeting you tonight in NY.

-/\/

Steve Graham wrote on August 12th, 2010

More terrific work. Your creativity is awesome plus once you think of something, you work hard at it until it comes to fruition. I’m not that creative and far too lazy to go to the lengths you do for these shots. Hmmm, could be why my shots all suck.

Elia Yacob wrote on August 12th, 2010

Superb!! You’re so creative yet crazy.. haha. That’s make you the best artist.

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