Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Roadside trees

click photo to enlarge
Trees are a part of the historical record that is often overlooked. Quite a few of Britain's woods and forests have existed for several hundred years, often shrinking, frequently changing their outline, but still recognisable in early maps and plans from elements of their perimeter that remain the same. Medieval banks and ditches that marked both the edge of a wood and internal divisions can still be seen. I've come across examples recently in Lincolnshire and Herefordshire. And many of the trees themselves are often much older than people realise. It comes as a surprise to some that in terms of "ancient trees" - those that are several hundred years old - England has more than anywhere north of the Mediterranean except Greece.

Trees are also good indicators of former dwellings. An unexpected couple of apple trees by the corner of a field frequently marks the site of a long gone cottage. In the Fens, where I currently live, apple trees (eaters not crab apples) are commonly found in hedgerows. I've often wondered if they show where the formerly more numerous agricultural workers deliberately set a sapling, or perhaps where a wooden or mud and stud house sat on a roadside plot.

Today's photograph shows an altogether different group of trees that are visible across the local fen. I don't think they were ever associated with houses. My guess is that they are the whim of a local farmer. Perhaps he had some conifers and ornamental deciduous trees left over from planting that he was doing around his farm. Or maybe he thought he'd liven up the local landscape. Whatever the reason, ever since I moved to the area I've looked at this line of trees and wondered. I recently passed it on my bicycle on a foggy afternoon that almost eliminated the background beyond the row of trees and I took this shot. I like it for the way the evergreens provide solid punctuation marks in the line of much more delicate deciduous trees, something that black and white emphasises better than colour.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/320
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On