In today’s post, I’ll use photography to make memories of the cherry tree that I grew up with since I was a little boy.
Many years ago I renovated the house of my grandma and with that also came a big garden full of trees. Every year, I am lucky to harvest fresh raspberries, apples, pears, cherries and many other fruits. It’s so wonderful to wake up in the morning and get yourself some fresh breakfast from the garden.
This was the garden when I inherited it. You can see parts of the huge cherry tree in the background
The biggest and probably oldest tree of all is my cherry tree. I remember climbing it when I was little. It brings a wonderful big shade during the hot days, and its fruits are so delicious.
You can see above how big my cherry tree was many years ago. The recent years’ thunderstorms and heavy rain hit really hard on the tree. It’s now missing about half of its branches on one side.
I always thought this giant beauty would outlive me for sure. But after the last visit from a gardener, I learned that the tree is probably completely hollow already. It will soon not be safe anymore to walk under it. That really made me sad because I have so many memories of this tree.
That was the moment when I realised that I wanted to capture a last memory on an ultra-large format ambrotype. I captured already a tintype of some cherry blossoms of this tree many years ago. and I am really glad that I did.
For this project, I brought my 12×16″ wooden Ultra Large Format came into my garden. Lenswise I decided to go with my 360mm Voigtländer Heliar universal.
I did a similar plate with the same setup last year when I captured the rebirth of one of my apple trees.
The tree looked like It was dying, but it grew out of itself again. When I thought it was dying, I gave it another year. And exactly in this year, it grew new branches. And yesterday, I had the first of its apples again for breakfast.
I exposed the apple tree ambrotype for the trunk of the tree to get a bright look. With that, I get lots of solarization where the branches touch the sky, and I think this looks great on glass plates.
But for the cherry tree, I wanted to do things a bit differently. That’s why I used a very old collodion, an old developer and a stronger fixer. With overexposing again, this should give me a warmer look with again lots of polarization.
The wet plate process is mostly seeing blue light, and that’s why the sky is easily overexposed. I really love how this turned out.
Maybe you ask yourself why I exposed for the tree trunk in both of these images. If I would have exposed for the green leaves or thin branches, the ambrotypes would have been much more contrasty, you may think. My thoughts are, that the trunk is one of the most important parts of the tree. If it gets hollow, there is a great chance that the tree will die.
As always, I did a scan of the plate to have kind of a copy of it. If you want to know more about this huge scanner, have a look here.
I always try to get the scan as close to the real thing, but to see the light reflecting on the silver when it hits the glass plate is not something you can not replicate in a scan.
This will be a memory that lasts forever. To see these two plates side by side, please check the end of my video, a photo or scan just won’t do justice. For me, the apple tree plate stands for a new beginning, and the Cherry tree plate for the end.
I am really sad that the tree must go. But where life ends, there will be a new one. After it is gone, I will plant a new cherry tree there. And for sure I will do some plates of it. portrait (c) Michael Liebert
I chose these portrait of me here because it fits perfectly into this story. Some time ago, I booked a portrait session with Michael Liebert. He knew that I was connected to my garden and this tree. That’s why he chose to take my portrait there. And now, this portrait is the perfect fit for my story today.
About the Author
Markus Hofstätter is a professional portrait, events and sports photographer based in Austria. He has a passion for analogue and wet plate photography. He loves travelling to visit new places and meeting new people. You can find out more about him on his website or blog, follow his work on Instagram or Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. You’ll find his prints here, some awesome merch here, and you can support him on Buy Me a Coffee and Patreon. This article was also published here and shared with permission.