Some of the world’s oldest trees are tucked away on untouched mountainsides, isolated lands, and private islands. And for 14 years, photographer Beth Moon traversed these farflung places to capture photographs of ancient trees before they died or got cut down by man.
Each trip took careful planning, according to Moon. Some trees’ foliage looked best during the rainy seasons while others in the winter. Places like the Yemeni island of Socotra had strong monsoon winds for months, giving her just a narrow window of time to shoot the dragon blood tree. And that’s not to mention the work involved in figuring out the right hour and ideal light conditions to do a tree’s portrait justice.
Choosing trees for their unique size, age, folklore, or simply their mysterious beauty, Moon captured and compiled images of trees from across Asia, North America, Africa, and Europe into a book, Ancient Trees, Portrait of Time. She also tried to capture the natural and cultural history of the ancient trees, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand years old. (Curiously, “ancient” doesn’t just describe a tree that’s extremely old for its species but, according to UK conservation charity, National Trust, signifies a category of historically important trees that “have amazing character and beauty and [are] incredibly rich in wildlife.”)
Take a look at some of the awe-inspiring trees Moon features.