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Tree of Life

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Published May 1, 2015 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 32 Contributors

    33 photos selected by

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    A representation in a water droplet. Trees hug and protect our earth. Both water and vegetation...

    #drop #ngmadventure #ngmcreate #reflection #water #ngmcreate_2 #ngmcreate_1 #ngmh20 #tree #nature

    Nearly every person in the world has a relationship to trees. They provide a vital balance for many aspects of our existence. For this assignment I wanted to see "your tree" and be taken into the mysteries and majesty that you have encountered.

    I was not disappointed.

    From an intimate reflection in a raindrop to otherworldly nightscapes reaching the Milky Way, I was transported. Your photographs had the power to reflect not only your experience with your surroundings but also to impart your emotions.

    I want to send a special thank you to the Tree of Life discussion board. Everyone went above and beyond to encourage each other’s work. The discussions that were sparked ranged from philosophical and spiritual, to environmental, personal, and technical. I watched work evolve from an idea to executions. That is exactly what happens in the offices of National Geographic when stories are being developed.

    I want to also commend the range of captioning that included factual descriptions, spiritual beliefs, personal stories, scientific data, and even poems. I had no idea the breadth of work and ideas that would be bestowed upon us and I am more than proud of what we created.

    I love this cypress in the gentle countryside of Tuscany. I have shot it many times, in different...

    #italy #tuscany #cypress #tree #fog

    Editor's Note

    This picture for me is simple, elegant and gorgeous. The mist creates a huge soft box of light that mutes the landscape with only a hint of the rolling hills being revealed. The tree in the center... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    The single tree called by local people of hormoz is a place located on the southern side of the i...

    #island #letsexplore #naturelover #nightphography #headlight #trees #iran #expousure #long

    Editor's Note

    I like how you used the long exposure in this shot. The tree is gently painted with light on the front and then this spark of light cuts the frame. The focus is just on the main elements, the tree ... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    Fireworks light defines a nearby tree and viewers as light trails and smoke envelope them in a su...

    #tree_of_life #viewers #fireworks

    Editor's Note

    This picture is so great in all it chaos. With all the rules broken you have created an amazing p... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    This photo was taken at the Vail Tree Lighting Ceremony. I used a slower shutter speed and light ...

    #night #lights #christmas #tree

    This tree was only survivor left standing in a 2007 fire. It still stands at the top looking over...

    #tree

    A beautiful nature gives us inner peace. This photograph was taken from Dhaka. I cropped few bott...

    #landscape #bangladesh #dhaka #birds #clouds #sky #animals #treeoflife #nature

    Editor's Note

    surreal moment. everything works so well in this image for me. beautiful

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image (s...

    #letsexplore #california #earthcanvas #desert #aerial #mojave #koehn

    I had been photographing Deadvlei at sunset one evening and was packing up to leave. As the sun w...

    #astro_landscape #namibia #africa #deadvlei #astrophography

    Hitachinaka,Japan

    #landscape #bleu #japan #nemophila #nature

    A night composition of the Burmis Tree in the Crowsnest Pass of Alberta. Though this tree actuall...

    #explorealberta #limber #night_photography #tree #burmis #pine

    Editor's Note

    I like that you included the metal constraints as a way to show the human connectivity to the tree. It is like the constraints are the only thing keeping it from floating away to the stars. Great i... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    I want to expand a little on my final selections and how I got to this point. Over the past three weeks I have looked at the Your Shot site everyday. This was my first introduction to the work. Then each week I was sent the same files that were submitted to the site so I could view them from my computer, where I could not see how many likes an image had received and they were anonymous and without captions. 

    By this time I had seen every image at least twice. After the final submission had come through, I had created a folder of about 275 favorites. From this selection I began to whittle away the collection to ultimately create the final story you see here. When I got down to my favorite 60 I went back to the Your Shot site and reread all the captions.

    A snapshot took in a old italian Asylum. The warm light coming from the window, even though I wa...

    #tree_of_life #reflection #autumn #window #transitionsastheworldturns #asylum

    Editor's Note

    I really love the mood of this image, i think you were able to translate the spirit of the landsc... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    ....

    #bird #tree #black__and_white #flight

    Celebrating the couple's engagement.

    #hampsteadheath #happy #tree #love

    Actually the picture is made on first days of spring, as the nature sometimes is very misleading ...

    #anne #larch #woods #italy #blac_and_white #art #creative #maenurm #tree__of_life #snowstorm #forest

    Editor's Note

    I am drawn to the different moods that this image provokes. It allows me to create a new story every time I look at it.

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    When everything passes so fast, the most precious thing is a possibility to reflect a moment.

    #winter #streetphotography #snow #moscow #russia

    This lone tree marks the sidelines of an after school soccer game underway in northern Namibia. ...

    #tree #tree_of_life_assignment

    You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? Th...

    #shadow #tree #black__and_white_photography #girl #treeoflife

    Editor's Note

    This pictures makes me believe I am peering into the saga between a young girl and a tree played out in Chinese shadow puppetry. I continue to create different scenarios every time I look at it.

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    saw this tree in february and was surprised to see cherry blossoms in full bloom this early in vi...

    #cherry_blossom #spring #iphone #tree

    Italy, Belluno, Cansiglio forest, autumn beech forest in the foggy sunrise.The most beautiful tim...

    #anne #autumn #maenurm #tree #mountains #treeofliefe #beech_forest #fog #atmosphere

    Everything is affected by the unrelenting nature of time, however, trees are probably the least a...

    #night #sonya7ii #jinju #tree #sonyphotography #photography #nature #korea #naturephotography

    Editor's Note

    This picture draws me in because of the colors and the light. This beautiful tree stands firm as ... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    A single exposure, where I panned my telephoto lens up and down, creates a moody image of pine tr...

    #motion #abstract #cool #treeoflife

    covered by trees...

    #hands #flowers #tree #girl

    The image is of a Frozen Lake surface in Ulster County, New York. As the lake froze, beavers brok...

    #ice #beaver #clouds #trees #forest

    Editor's Note

    I am drawn to this image because it makes me feel like you have mapped the landscape with your own latitude lines. A cartographer of your own world.

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    I wanted the overall concept to be one of the family tree variety, and thought playing cards repr...

    #cards #tree

    A bare treetop reflected in this puddle of rainwater at just the right angle as storm clouds cove...

    #reflection #odin #nature_selfie #tree #runes #nature

    Eiffel tower in motion

    #eiffeltower #black_and_white #blackandwhite

    Editor's Note

    I like this image because of the play between the tower and tree both holding their unique significance in the frame.

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today..... And I'll always remember it. One day it's here and...

    #dusk #twilight #life #silhouettes #tree #sunset #nature

    This photograph was taken at night using a long exposure and a camping lantern. The three of us s...

    #washington #spirit #soul #pnw #hohrainforest #tree #forest #nature

    This photography was shot during a winter snow storm in Moscow. It was a windy and cold evening i...

    #night #light #snow #moscow #tree

    Our grand daughter was adopted from an orphanage at the age of five and has become a wonderful pa...

    #ngmcreate #abstract #findingfamily #portrait #tree_of_life_assignment

    Editor's Note

    I appreciate this photograph on many levels. It is a wonderful interpretation of the assignment and a beautiful portrait. I love how you used your granddaughter to be the trunk of your family tree.... More

    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer

    This is a time of transition when two seasons intersect. Spring begins before winter to end, if t...

    #see #austria #tragoss #scubadiving #underwater #lake #green #gruner #nature

    Editor's Note

    I love, love, love this photo Marc; this is one of my favorite Your Shot images. The first word that comes to my mind: magical. I agree with Your Shot user Jacqueline Sinclair: "Beautiful! Great po... More

    David Y. Lee
    Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    This photo is both figuratively and literally reflective of a good vacation. Surrounded by palm t...

    #palm #reflection #vacation #water #beach #palmtree #glass #vacaciones

    The images I chose, represent, for me, some of the most unique interpretations of the assignment or in some cases just an absolutely beautiful rendering of a tree.

    Keep in mind this story’s selections are only my reactions to your amazing images. I encourage you to take the time to look at all the assignment submissions, as you may find hidden treasures that you respond to. I also encourage you to remember that the process and journey of image making is just as important—if not more important—than the final outcome. 

    Create your work from the heart, believe in it, then let it go and take a life of its own. The story as it is shown here is just the first step of where the work can go.

    About the Editor
    Erika Larsen
    National Geographic Photographer
    Erika Larsen’s work uses photography, video and writing to learn intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She has been working as a magazine photographer since 2000 specializing in human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues and is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine. Her work has been ...

    Photographers Published In the Story