Just the other day, as I was going for a walk along the creek near our place, I looked at a tree that I’ve noticed a number of times because my imagination consistently sees a likeness to a face in its surface. I had a camera with me (I usually do nowadays) and took the time to make a shot. My interest in this curious coincidental phenomenon was heightened because, while rummaging through a vast supply of old archived photos, I ran across two more that I photographed many years ago, and recalled that when I made the second one, I did so with the intention of developing a “faces in nature” portfolio. In the meantime, the faces that I’ve seen in nature have been very few and far between. But now there are three, and I think they’re worthy of sharing in a post.
The first was actually not in a more-or-less fixed object, but was temporary and quite fleeting, lasting only a minute or so. It happened while I was on a work trip in Australia. The last day of January 2004 found me in a sparsely-populated area of New South Wales, not too far from Gunnedah. I’d had a long day and had retired around midnight. I was sleeping soundly, but something woke me up rather suddenly around three in the morning. I listened carefully, but could hear nothing out of the ordinary and did not remember having heard any sound that might have awakened me, so I slipped on my jeans and a shirt and went outside for a look around. There was nothing special at ground or tree level, but when I looked up at the sky, I knew that my photo angel had called me out to see a remarkable nebulous phenomenon. The sky was mostly clear, except for one cloud, which was moving slowly across the dark expanse, heading directly toward the moon, and its leading edge had formed the silhouette of a face. I had enough time to zip back into my room, attach my camera to my tripod, and wait for it to pass in front of the moon so it would be backlit, the better to show the face. I made 13 exposures on Kodak TMY (T-Max 400), pushed to ISO 500, with a Pentax SF-1N and a Pentax 100-300 zoom lens at a focal length of 135, and exposed between 1 and 2 seconds at f 4.5. The ninth exposure in the series is my favorite.
The second was in a maple tree that grew alongside the street on which we lived while we were in Fairfax, VA and I worked in Washington, DC. I passed it every work day on my way to the metro (subway) and it made me smile and lightened my day whenever I took the time to appreciate it. I made this shot in the summer of 1996.
And finally, here’s the new face that gapes at passersby from its vantage point in the bark of a Bradford pear tree just around the corner. I plan to keep my eyes open for more faces in nature and if I find any in the near future, I’ll share them again. Have any of you seen an unexpected face that you can tell us about?