Winter Wrapped Trees

For some reason, this image just breaks my heart. The harshness of Winter.

I have been here in the past. It was before the snow fell, before the cold really settled in. If you missed the first visit you can find it here. I’m fascinated by the figurative nature of these wrapped trees and how they can be interpreted in different ways. The way they relate to each other. The changes taking place through the seasons. The conversations.

All images Β© Karen McRae

88 thoughts on “Winter Wrapped Trees

  1. That first one – they really do seem in a kind of agony, or perhaps in prayer. Is it perhaps something to do with the unusual choice of fabric wrapping them – one would expect synthetics, and instead to have sack cloth…it just evokes something human, medieval.

  2. These are so very evocative. Glad to see more of the wrapped trees. Just showed my son the first shoot yesterday. This grouping with it’s wider composition pulls at me much like refugees of winter’s brutality. Both shoots however, share an uncommon beauty.

  3. A pilgrimage of wrapped trees; looking to the next season. The trees seem to take on a life of their own in winter – the way you photographed them gives an other-wordly feeling. Excellent compositions! I do love the pair in the 3rd image.

  4. I’m not even going to start saying what I see, because they are so richly evocative and bizarre. I wonder where you live– it must be a very harsh place if even the trees need sweaters.

    1. I live in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
      It does get a bit harsh in winter. The story behind the “sweaters” is that they are newly planted trees along a highway, wrapped to help them survive their first winter in harsh conditions.

  5. Wow, these are really striking. Someone up above mentioned a pilgrimage and that’s exactly what I thought of too. The fourth picture is my favorite. That’s the one that looks most like people on a march, just beautiful.

    (Poor arborvitaes, though, winter is really hard on them.)

  6. These are remarkable images, keenly observed and presented as hauntingly beautiful compositions. At the same time, for me, there is an intense sadness. I see prisoners or refugees exposed to harsh conditions. They have no freedom of movement – their limbs are bound, their identity lost, and they are reduced to a shuffle. The wire fence in the first photo indicates their confinement. These are very fine photos, beautiful but challenging.

  7. Most people wouldn’t even think to look twice at these, I don’t think. You’ve got a creative eye, though. It is a little heartwrenching. They look like prisoners.

  8. Fantastic shots! Very beautiful and I just love the feel to these shots. I agree – they look human in a way. Love how they all look different.

  9. It must be the most bizarre landscape I ever seen.
    Far stronger any conceptual art installation or situationist play.
    And made my spine chill. Because it real though,
    Even the tree themselves couldn’t withstand their natural climate ?
    Or see it as a warm hearted human activity ?
    Or stranded monks or pilgrims in the wild ? —– I lost a word.

    1. They do look very strange don’t they. Like they have taken on a life of their own.
      They are wrapped to protect them from their first harsh Canadian winter along a highway.

  10. amazing shots , thoughts provoking ones as well. We know they are trees, but they look little human statues. Spellbinding photos.

  11. Heart rending.. If you remember Karen on your first post I mentioned that I thought they looked like Irish potato famine survivors…this reminds me of that even more…or of concentration camp victims…or the long march.. the most extraordinary photos..

  12. Haunting and beautiful at the same moment. The “figures” seem to want to move off the page but are frozen and tied down. There’s a subtle hint of longing in them. They look as if they’re waiting for something.

    Great images.

  13. These pictures do haunt. It’s eery just how human those trees appear. Never underestimate the power of the human mind to anthropomorphize anything it sees. Thank you for sharing these photos. Of the photos you took of this subject, about how many would you say were “left on the cutting room floor?”

    1. Oh lots on the cutting room floor! Although a lot of those are interesting too. I find it hard to look at them and think trees. they seem to have morphed in my mind for sure.

  14. Beautiful, haunting photos! I like the third one where the details of the frost on the burlap are visible. And it’s amazing to think that trees wrapped in cloth can evoke so many associations with hardship, agony, longing, despair. Wonderful work.

  15. So creepy! You’ve set the scene perfectly. I can almost hear the winter wind whistling and see the angry dark clouds sneaking in behind you…like a scary movie. Really cool pics! I love when pictures provoke feeling.

  16. Wow, Karen. These are even more spectacular than the first batch. Some of them still remind me of penguins; others remind me of people bundled against the cold on a slowly plodding one behind the other on a pilgrimage.

    Those photos create so many emotions and isn’t that our goal to create emotions and not just beautiful photos.

    Amazing work and I can see why you are fascinated with them.

  17. Great photographs, Karen! They look like they are alive and taking refuge from the cold, huddling up the way they are doing! In some ways the images are disturbing because they look like suffering people – refugees, or like some of the images of Russian and German soldiers that came from the Russian Front during the 2nd World War! Poignant and sad in some respects! Isn’t it amazing how some photographs can lead you in all sorts of unrelated directions and/or produce emotional responses?



  18. I enjoyed the first photos that you published of these trees Karen and these are even better. So many interprertations including a seal colony among others. Superb.

  19. I love the countryside in a white coat, but these shrubs wrapped in blankets give me the impression of great suffering and I am thinking suddenly to the beautiful oleander in my garden in Normandy in France. I wonder if it was good to ask friends to cover it for winter and I wonder what he looks under his blanket. If he resists the cold this year, I think I will leave it to defend himself against the cold next year.

  20. Outstanding series Karen, very life-like and figurative as you said. So many stories in there. Beautiful collection.

  21. Great photos, Karen! I remember the earlier wrapped trees post. And can easily notice the harshness of the winters. You have captured it beautifully! πŸ™‚

  22. This is what went through my mind at first glance: “Oh no! What are these? Oh God! They need a hug. oh … no… errrkk… agggghhh… ” as I scrolled down. Now I realise I’ve seen them before – on your blog! I can’t wait for spring! πŸ™‚

  23. Reblogged this on bythelight1973 and commented:
    Ooh. Why didn’t I think of reblogging. well it seems good ideas come ideas come on Mondays. I was trying to explain to my sister in law (who is an artist in college) about your photographs. She is always on the go but looks at my blog. I know she will appreciate your pictures. I just couldn’t quite do your pictures justice with words. they definitely need to seen. cheers!

  24. These are really awesome and powerful. I think we can all write our own scenario for what might be going on here. I think it will be really interesting to see how you might edit and group them once you have your stack of them.
    You were, of course. correct in that we don’t have them in this climate, but still I have never seen/noticed them in colder climates, and I certainly have never seen them photographed this way!

  25. I thought you had wrapped them. Now I see you found them that way. Yes, I would go back at dawn and dust and night and shoot.(Maybe you did and I missed a post. I think I may have one more post I haven’t found yet ) One day you will go there and they will be unrobed. You will need to photograph this development. too. Did you photograph them in raw? You could blow them up. They would make a spectacular exhibit. Has anyone approached you for a show? Maybe you could pursue that route. Galleries and museums could see them right here. Keep going with this series!

  26. Phenomenal images. So arresting and evocative. I agree – there’s certainly an element that like them to conceptual art or land art … but there’s an immediate pull that I find some conceptual work lacks. You have an amazing eye. Brill!

      1. You are most welcome. They are ‘characters’ – absolutely! I’m finding the same sort of thing developing with the nest photos I’ve ben shooting for the past bunch of months; they have ‘personalities’ and evoke really strong, visceral reactions. Interesting how we respond to objects in the environment this way, yes?

  27. Back again to gaze on your trees Karen, it’s quite emotive really as I found this page of yours at the beginning of my photographic journey, and now we’re nearly a year on! Thankyou for being such an inspiration this year! May it be another great year for you.

    1. Thanks so much, Cath. I am truly glad to have met you this way! =)
      And…! I saw someone wrapping a bunch of the highway trees again, just yesterday. So there may be more coming…

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