Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Trees


“Trees need not walk the earth

For beauty or for bread;

Beauty will come to them

Where they stand…”

Trees Need Not Walk the Earth
By David Rosenthal

Stockton has been designated as a Tree City USA for more than 30 years which is the inspiration for the next Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Trees.

Trees help clean the air, raise property values and provide cooling shade during the hot summers. Most importantly, for this challenge at least, they beautify the areas in which they grow.

You may think that earlier in the spring when blossoms are blooming or later in the fall when leaves are turning colors would be a better time for this assignment. This is true but I purposely wanted to avoid those visual tropes. This challenge is to think of other ways to photograph trees than those tried and true methods.

Finding a subject should be difficult. Most area cities and towns have their streets lined with trees. In addition, there are acres upon acres of cherry, walnut and other orchards in the close by agricultural lands of the Delta. If you want to travel a bit farther the Mother Lode is filled with all kinds of trees. Or you can stay at home and photograph trees I your own backyard.

You can shoot the trees individually, in a small stand of a several or a whole forest of them. The choice is yours.

The trees can be the main subject or you photo or they can be part of the background or foreground playing a supporting role to your main subject, say a portrait. A common technique is to use the branches of a tree to frame your subject.

You don’t even have to get a whole tree. Close ups of just some of the parts, branches, leaves, bark or roots, are also acceptable. Also, you can photograph the wildlife that used trees as their habitat such as birds, squirrels or insects.

Under a tree is a great place to take a portrait. The open shade can give pleasing and even lighting to your subject.

As with any other photo, light is always important. Try some backlighting which will help to bring out the color of the thin leaves. And of course, trees make perfect subjects to have silhouetted against fiery sunsets or dramatic clouds.

While money doesn’t grow on trees, hopefully this assignment and show that trees can produce a harvest of good photos.

How to Enter:

1. Email your entries to Type in “Flowers” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between May 4 and May 18.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos, if they’re related to you and the breed of flower. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton sits under an oak tree at Victory Park in Stockton). Try to identify the type of tree, if possible.

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Thursday, May 18. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on May 25 at

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    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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