A tenuous grasp

Yosemite maintains a special place in my heart. Each bend in the Merced and every speck of granite seem familiar; almost essential to me. While most of the park seems like an old friend, some places seem to be a nemesis. This bay laurel tree, with its roots clutching at the granite, is one of those places. 

For years I’ve walked past this tree, near Bridal Veil fall. The sprawling roots, and their seemingly tenuous grasp of the granite has fascinated me. In reality, this tree is so firmly rooted it survives year after year of raucous spring flows, followed by the cold dry winters that so much of California endures. Year after year I’ve been drawn to this tree; compelled to photograph it. Each time I try, I fail to capture what I see and feel. 

This December, while helping my friend Gary Hart on a workshop, I got to see my nemesis again. Almost as a rite of passage, I couldn’t move on until attempting again to tell its story. Finally, after years of trying, I feel like I’ve been able to capture the soul of this tree. 

What struck me from the first time I saw it, was the sprawling grasp on the rock that is the heart and soul of Yosemite. While that rock defines the relationship, the water nourishes it. This shot was the result of 30-45 minutes of shooting, adjusting, and shooting some more. Each frame brought me closer to my goal. 

I’m not sure I’m done, and I hope to have a relationship with this tree for a long time, but I think I finally have come closer to telling it’s story. 

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