The Zen of the Bare Branch

Winter is almost over here in Arizona, at least below the Mogollon Rim.  All around us, plants are in bloom and pollen is in the air.  Trees are beginning to leaf out, and soon they will be green and the ground will be brown and parched–the way nature intended here in the desert.

But before all the trees become covered with their canopy of green, let me pay homage to the simple beauty of the bare branch.  When we were visiting Montezuma Castle two weeks ago, I was struck by the beauty of the stark white sycamore and ash trees against the azure blue sky, as seen in this single exposure processed in Paintshop Pro X3:

The white branches blended so beautifully with the chalky white limestone cliffs where the Native Americans built their cliff dwellings.  The trunks of the sycamore trees have the most gorgeous bark–it looks like a jigsaw puzzle of various shades of olive, tan, beige, pistachio, khaki, especially when processed as an HDR image from three bracketed exposures:

When we drove into Sedona later that afternoon, I spent a lot of time shooting pictures of the red rocks aglow in the light of the setting sun.  But as the sun was just about to slip below the horizon, I turned to face it and captured this shot of the bare branches of the oak trees:

It was such a lovely, peaceful silhouette that I did very little processing of the raw file.

Nature can be beautiful even when dormant and while hibernating.  It reminds us that we all need time to rest and recuperate so that we can bloom afresh and anew in the spring.

Happy Easter, everyone!