“Nature’s Handwriting” by Jeff Hall

As a child we would create “sapsicles” hanging from the lower branches of maple trees that would form during the cold of the night. On days when we knew the temperature was going to go below freezing overnight, we would snap off the ends of the smaller branches so that the sap could escape. Then, as the temperature dropped, the sap would form small icicles as it dripped down. By morning there would be a sweet treat for us students as we walked to school. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of maple trees.

Every year in New Hampshire, our former home state, a few dozen maple sugar producers open their “sugar shacks” to the public and they show off their maple syrup product and the equipment that makes it. There are about 100 producers in New Hampshire, even though it is one of the smallest states in the US. Fortunately, Sugar Maples are plentiful in New Hampshire, so there is plenty of sap to harvest.

My photo was taken of the abstract patterns formed from evaporated maple tree sap on a holding tank. This tank is used to accumulate raw maple tree sap as it comes in from the sugar bush trees. Once the sap has been drained out, and before the tank is cleaned, the traces of sap leave wonderful fractal patterns on the tank’s metal surface as the water in the sap evaporates. The light was hitting it exactly right that day to capture this image.
The patterns formed by the sap remind me of etching or ancient handwriting, thus the title, and have such elegance that only the randomness of nature could achieve. I hope you enjoy it.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The wonderful etched appearance of the sap, and the warm colors of the metal and dried sap.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

Maybe bring a macro lens to get the details even closer. Or, lowered the shutter speed and closed down the aperture to get more depth of field.

Jeff Hall shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Jeff Hall, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA


Equipment and Settings

Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
F/3.2, 1/1600 sec., ISO 2500, 62mm

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Comments (4):

  1. Jean-Marc Caschetta

    January 30, 2021 at 16:08

    Very good
    and interesting. I love…

  2. Greig Clifford

    February 2, 2021 at 10:46

    I like the textures, colours, lines and shapes… all working together to create a fine abstract. It’s interesting, reading the photographer’s thoughts behind the image, and it’s good that Frames provides the opportunity for deeper reflection.

  3. Tom Wilson

    February 24, 2021 at 02:33

    Fascinating and informative article/interview. Love the image. Thanks!


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