I recently visited Moab Utah to reconnect with the desert and immerse myself in the romantic cinematic views of the canyons and arches. While I was traveling about the many icons of the Moab area I decided to focus my attention to one of the silent bystanders to these beautiful sweeping vistas, the Utah Juniper. I call these twisted species ‘The Ghost Trees’.
If you have ever spent anytime during the dark hours around the Moab desert you will find yourself at some point startled or frightened by the haunting shape. It as if they sneak up behind you, only to take pleasure in your shaken discovery of their presence. Silhouetted against the blue twilight sky or rim lit from a full moon, their wrangled branches silently reach towards you like an apparition reaching for your soul. They are as memorable as a nightmare, but quite often overlooked because of the many geological wonders in the area.
What follows is the topology of some of the Ghost Trees I had passed in my wanderings. Perhaps it is a eulogy of their presence across the deserted red wasteland. Each one striking a dramatic pose like a vogue model showing off their unique character and shape. They physically represent the many years of harsh life in the desert, but their skeleton may last even longer. They undertake a prolonged death, into a wooden stub, and eventually collapse to the sandy floor.
Some are more full than others but all victims of the extreme arid desert, sun and wind is the price all of Utah’s denizens must pay. No two trees are alike, but all share the same story of life and death in the desert.
Nikon 17-35 2.8
Nikon 28-300 3.5
Before & After Handcrafting
If you’re a member of the Fellowship of Explorers, make sure to log in and check out this episode of ‘Handcrafted’. Armando will walk you through the exact processing he did in Lightroom to achieve this unique, yet haunting look. Holler if you have any questions!