Populus tremuloides

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared an image like this. In the past, they have provoked reactions along the lines as to what an image like this has to do with botany. It’s hard to argue against that point, so my only excuse for sharing it is that it’s a weekend before I’m out of the office for the next week, and I don’t have time to write much.

For your reading fix, I suggest visiting the Art Blog of Jonathan Jones, with a recent assertion: Science is More Beautiful Than Art. If I recall correctly (the past week has been a blur), the article was forwarded to me by UBC Botanical Garden’s new Artist-in-Residence, Dana Cromie.

Speaking of blurs, that is how today’s photograph was made–a long-exposure smooth panning motion on some poplar trees in Jasper National Park.

Populus tremuloides

17 responses to “Populus tremuloides”

  1. Viola


  2. Elizabeth

    Thanks for sharing this image- very unique photography, almost looks like a painting! Way to push the bounds of botanical perceptions!! 😉

  3. Eric Simpson

    Another great abstract, Daniel…but wouldn’t this be a tllt, rather than a pan?

  4. Ann Kent HTM

    Elegant. And perhaps important to remember that for many people with impaired vision, this is how they might perceive a grove of trees, and no less beautiful for that lovely glow of white bark against a dark background. Different perspectives are appreciated. Ann.

  5. Sylvia Oates


  6. elizabeth a airhart

    i wonder if this is where the ghost riders have thier home

  7. Elizabeth Revell

    Eerily beautiful. Dream? Or nightmare? Anything could be lurking or lingering in those depths. A wonderful piece of art photography.

  8. florence christoplos

    It would be interesting to see the “natural” image juxtaposed or alternated with this one.

  9. Anne

    This reminds me of a scene from the movie “The Killing of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. I don’t remember specifics but I know they were riding a train in the middle of the night through what I thought was Aspen country because the trees going by seemed so eerily and beautifully lit.

  10. jim martin

    This is Art. This is high Art. Great shot. Lots more stuff in this vein would be appreciated!

  11. Alexander Jablanczy

    No this is not art not at all.
    Art has form and content.
    I grant that this does have form but 0 content.
    Therefore it is simply nothing, as it is devoid of meaning like all of abstract expressionism which it apes badly.
    I wasnt going to write why annoy the ignorant but one should set
    the thing right.
    Consider a Mondriaan and the Mona Lisa la Gioconde.
    Both have form, the non art or let’s be kind the half art has lines coloured fields of the same meaningless boring primary colours red blue yellow rarely green white or black and that’s it. Form boring rigid silly form and 0 content 0 meaning. All at right angles and probably ruler drawn. The incompetent idiot.
    The Mona Lisa is also an abstract of curves arcades garlands especially the recently uncovered one at the Prado not the boringly darkened so far considered original la Gioconde at the Louvre. And the colours are muted and modulated and bright red pink mauve gray flesh colour and all the curves suggest underneath all the diaphanous translucent clothing a very beautiful young woman.
    Passionate too as the red suggests. And very soft and malleable and yielding. All in contrast to the harsh angular rough landscape of rocks and crags and wild nature of the background.
    Every brushstroke every modulation of colour tone shade and sfumato has meaning even the two pillars which werent visible on the so called original.
    That is high art not the meaningless formless contentless drivel of abstractionists.
    Abstract art is Taliban art iconoclast art which destroys man and God and nature and plant and animal whether it’s Savonarola burning the art of Florence or the Byzantine iconoclasts destroying ikons, Taliban bombing Buddha colossi carved into mountains. Mindless uncivilised barbarians.
    All of human civilisation meant search for meaning and illustrations of real animals from Altamira to Frieda Kahlo and plants and animals and nature and landscapes and natures mortes but above all of humans.

  12. Anonymous

    Ranting and name dropping aside, this is a botany blog. If an observer wishes to call a photograph art, they are not wrong. Art is subjective. That being said… In my humble opinion, I pitty the person who dwells within the confines of such rigid and ancient boundaries.

  13. al jablan

    Wrong. Stuff and nonsense. Art is not subjective it s appreciation and misappropriation might be but it is knowable and comprehensible beyond mere subjectivism. Way back with the Greeks and Romans they already knew that aesthetics was one of the sciences and not just mush. Or one of the areas of philosophy.
    BTW photography is NOT art whatever some ignoramuses declare.
    Why not? It is not the product of a human mind and a human hand and human eyes but of photons striking a AgNO3 silver nitrate emulsion in which no human agency has interposed itself.
    As art is defined as the product of a human hand and eye photography isnt art. Period.
    An objet trouve can be beautiful but it isnt art. A sunset a landscape a flower can be beautiful more beautiful than a painting of the same but it isnt art.
    A loon concert on a lake at night in Algoma can be more beautiful and satisfying than a Beethowen quintet but it isnt art. Sorry.
    Remember form and content.
    This is not arguable.
    Abstract art has no content. Period.
    If this is a botany website then why the abstract art which is meaningless? Not only content less but formless even.

  14. Eric Simpson

    Alexander, you’ve made this same rant just about every time Daniel has posted an abstract. Give it rest! Art *is* 100% subjective, and you prove it with your rants giving *your* definition of “art” and “content”. *My* opinion, and that of most of the art professors I had when earning my art degree, is that art is in the eye of the artist. Duchamp signed a urinal R. Mutt, and called it art; therefore it is. You may not like it, you can even come up with *seeming* rationlizations for your *opinion*, but that does not negate reality. And don’t bother replying, as I remember your previous rants, and they were as empty of meaningful “content” as your current ones. You just need to accept that yours is *not* the common definition of “art” held by the public–or most scholars or artists–and let people enjoy the work in peace.

  15. al jablan

    Of course that is an invitation. I dont care if all profs of art are brainwashed imbeciles who dont know what they are talking about.
    Indeed Duchamp did even more he painted a moustache on Mona Lisa. And hilariously self defeatingly as he thereby paid homage to what is real art. The curve of the moustache replicates the curves of the edge of the sleeves the curves of the fingers the curves of the bodice – no wardrobe malfunction heah- the curve of the calvarium for you the top of her head the curves of the newly apparent tulles or veils or calico shawls which is the painterly meaning of the painting but it is subsumed in the subject and becomes one with it.
    Obviously subliminally Duchamp understood this hence the curves of the moustache.
    But Mondriaan has only straight lines and uniformly coloured rectangles and hence has painterly technical meaning or form but no subject or content.
    It is simply ignorant to claim that art or music or poetry for that matter is merely matter of opinion and subjective. Nonsense.
    To point out that an error is nonsense is not a rant nor an opinion but provable truth.
    I was just looking through the fabulous paintings of Norval Morrisseau and although they do not conform to the canon of European colour harmony they have very strong form and massive content. So Abstarct expressionism did serve a purpose in so changing our art appreciation that we can rejoice on Bill Reids or N M’s paintings despite their supposed primitivism.
    Nowadays I would prefer a cycladic figurine to the Venus de Milo. More correctly Aphrodite of Melos though that is also sublime.
    Ever read Plato Aristotle Longinus Horace and Pope?
    Norval Morrisseau is simply overwhelmingly unbelievably creative original in every painting but once you have seen a Mondriaan you have seen them all. Figurative art has infinite richness, abstraction is a repetitive bore. Once an artist found a gimmick a formula he repeats it ad nauseam.
    Nature is also a great artist of course to which this website is a witness. The shapes of flowers or their hue and their variation in form and structure is infinite.

  16. Daniel Mosquin

    AJ, you’ve been warned in the past not to insult other commenters.
    As for the rants, well, you shouldn’t contradict yourself if you want to be taken seriously:
    “As art is defined as the product of a human hand and eye photography isnt art.”
    “Nature is also a great artist of course to which this website is a witness.”

  17. Dr Alexander Jablanczy BA MA abd MD

    I beg to differ. I am not insulting anyone rather I was insulted by calling my contribution rant which I proved it wasnt.
    Because these grumblers have nothing to contribute except argumenti ad hominem.
    This is not a kindergarten where you discipline miscreant toddlers.
    The nerve.
    Evidently what I wrote wasnt well written because it went right over everyones head. There is no contradiction in the two quoted snippets.
    I deal with ideas and concepts what is art why is the Mona Lisa and la Gioconde beautiful what is right and wrong with so called abstract art why photography isnt really art and I defend these positions by argument and proof.
    Bad photography even imitates painting because it wants to appear artsy. It should stick to what it does best record faithfully and accurately and sharply and honestly reality. Without manipulation.
    It of course made art retreat from trompe l’oeil techniques. Even great artists and writers like Vasari talked errant nonsense when he glowed lyrical about the skill of Leonardo in painting water droplets and flies so real that viewers thought they were. This is an amateurs and ignoramuses understanding of art such as “Look at all the detail”.
    Analogous to “he hit all the high Cs” or “wow the rhymes are all perfect”.
    We also learn humility from Nature. A sky a lake a river a cloud a
    landing may have a thousand hues and tones and chiaroscuro
    of grey just grey no other colour but the greatest painters can only do say a hundred and amateurs two or three. A photograph can capture also only a few hundred shades of grey.
    Or the curves of the branches of one specific tree of one species. In reality an infinite number, in a Breughel a hundred, on a photograph a thousand. Or fronds of a fern.
    So we havent even begun to exhaust the possiblities of one single plant or rock or a pink globular slime mold on a blackened rough rotting stump’s bark for that matter.
    A sublime image if unruined by shenanigans.
    No one has thanked me for explaining Mona Lisa at a level which the critics and art historians I have read havent done.
    These are for me rather important issues and are connected to why photography isnt art and why abstarct art is defective and deficient.
    But it had its day and utility. I give credit where credit is due and condemn when that is deserved.
    You dont think criticism makes you grow and change and develop and silly adulation deforms character and quality?
    I do enjoy this website but when it defeats its purpose you should be able to take criticism for it.
    Smearing a photograph is a neat and nice trick but that doesnt make it art not even bastard art. Funny I typed abstarct art but my fingers knew better.
    And I didnt even mention your other solecism the smearing of the background. I had to tie my hands down when you arbitrarily ruined a superb photograph of a very important organism the slime mold which is evolutionarily one of the most interesting living things on this planet not to write a riposte. But that was insignificant compared to the biological issues raised. With properties of plants animals & fungi.
    Which would have brought us to the completely new rearrangment of living things into six kingdoms which I would bet is news to 99% of the admirers of this website as it was to me a decade or so ago
    but which I am sure you are familiar with as a biologist. Which made the lowly despised slime molds suddenly the most important organism on this planet from the point of view of taxonomy evolution and even the origin of life which are rather major issues.
    This is not only a beautiful entertaining instructive website mostly due to your efforts no doubt but one which makes one think. Of the environment of the great chain of being evolution pollution planetary and cosmic issues and even political ones.
    You were the one who introduced issues of perception art history aesthetics when you mangled perfectly good photographs and called them abstract art.
    When one uses a microscope or a macroscope or a telescope one struggles with achieving maximum sharpness not blurry images.
    The photomicrograph of the bamboo stem was beautiful and good biology as it instructed in the meaning of the term vascular plants and also the question as to when is a grass a tree if it is that.
    Blurring of the image would have been a misdirection of interest and of course without any merit of increase of knowledge.
    And certainly 0 aesthetic quality.
    When the fog clears you can see clearly.

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