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Photographing Creatures of the Wood

Updated: Feb 21

by Mike Rossi

Creatures of the Wood

It all started with the twinkling of coloured lights coming from a stack of chopped Tasmanian Blue Gum logs – glints of yellow, blue, and red flickered across my eyelids. They say curiosity killed the cat but in my case, the experience enlightened my mind.

Spooky Eye creature of the wood photograph

Research told me the Blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) is a relative of the rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) which explains the myriad of colours I saw. A tree depends on its bark to live. In the bark, there are three channels providing food. The first layer called the Phloem carries the sugars from the leaves down to the rest of the tree. Next is the Xylem which carries water and minerals the opposite way, up to the leaves. Sandwiched between these two layers is the Cambium which produces cells for the Xylem and the Phloem.

Glaucous creature of the wood photograph

Over the next few months, I photographed in close-up various selected pieces of bark. The raw files revealed a zoology of wildlife as well as an astrology of comets and stars. I also noticed the camera sensor, like an x-ray had pierced through the outer layers and revealed many more colours. Blue was the glaucous powder the bark relies on to sunscreen the tree from harsh sunlight and wind. Blue is also the starch the tree needs to live. Red was Carotine – food that travelled up the roots.

Dragon creature of the wood photograph

Green was Chlorophyll being transported down from the leaves. Other bark layers take on orange, red and yellow hues; chemicals to ward off insect attacks. Some colours like browns, and yellows are due to tannins, lignins and suborn. These reflect different wavelengths of light, which explains the variations of colour you see. Blue gum trees have thin barks which they shed and replace from time to time revealing more colours.

Chameleon creature of the wood photograph

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