Over the last week or so, with an unusual spell of dry weather, I’ve been taking more night shots of my young Ash trees. The other night, after coming home late from a meeting, when driving into our small forest I noticed our mountain was on fire. Its the time of year that local farmers burn the heather on top of Mt Leinster and the other Blackstairs mountains for sheep grazing. Its not something I really approve of but at least this year they are burning well before the birds are nesting. Its the main reason why we have no forested areas on the slopes of the mountains apart from plantations. Its argued its an important tradition for the shared hilltop commons area, but its odd that its the tradition of colonizers who brought sheep to Ireland and Scotland more than what was happening here originally. What was there originally supported wolves and the like…forests, the last wolf in Ireland was reported as been killed on Mt Leinster environs in 1786.
This time out, I found still photographs rather than video captured the images better.
I’m finding taking shots of the ash at night, fits in with my ideas about thinking about resilience and its also easier to highlight the young stems against the black. Taking images of young trees naturally regenerating in daylight, often in the midst of blackberry bushes other trees, often means its hard for the untrained eye to see the new trees coming up. However, somehow the orange from the mountain fire made it all seem rather operatic… so I’m not sure I will use these shots as they convey something not aligned to the ideas I’m thinking about. At times when I create my audiovisual films I use stills but not so much lately. Still images often evoke past times, when I suppose I’m trying to bring to audiences a feeling of being in my forest in real-time.
There were a few shots though where the darkness of the ground between the young stems intrigued me – I’ve long been interested in somehow capturing the real mastermind of forest ecosystems, the fungal networks underneath that support all the life in the forest… so these will be filed away until I can figure out how to approach that idea. Can’t ever stop my interest in microbes – I spent my first ten years looking down microscopes.
Mnd you how can one think of fungi without thinking about regeneration. Here is Paul Stamets – and his work is being brought to huge audiences now through the amazing film work of nature cinematographer Louis Schwartzburg (you may have seen Louis’ TED presentations of the world of our pollinators previously).