When the Trees fall – A Photographic Story

Florida is prone to storms, from hurricanes to smaller thunderstorms that can produce strong gust winds, and the evidence of its path lies on the forest floor.

Although it’s super sad to see all these trees snapped in various sections and even uprooted in a favorite area to photograph nature, let’s look at this from a different perspective and as ecological value.  


Snags are great perching platforms for many species of wildlife, including various birds and squirrels. However, they are most likely to fall during a storm.

A snag is a term used in forest ecology and refers to a dead tree but still standing. It is often missing the top of the tree and may have broken branches. 

A Red-shouldered hawk is perched on a snag.

Snags and downed trees provide shelter for hundreds of wildlife species. Woodpeckers, like the Red-headed woodpecker, will excavate trunks for shelter and nesting. Abandoned woodpecker holes make a perfect home for owls, and other wildlife species. Those snapped or uprooted trees are excellent sheltering for raccoons, possums and armadillos, and even bears and bobcats. 

Snapped | Uprooted

When a tree snaps or when the entire tree is uprooted falls to the ground, it can be an essential source for hundreds of species of insects, amphibians, and reptiles. Even the bark and branches lying on the ground can be used for shelter and to find food.

Organic Matter 

The decomposing bark and timber produce organic matter. There is a whole complex system below the top layer of the forest. Bacteria, fungi, and even mites and other tiny micro-fauna organisms are just as important in the forest. 

Tree Growth

When mature trees are damaged or perish by storms, younger trees will take their place -a natural rotating cycle within the forest.

Tree Diseases

The down trees may also be a way for biologists to understand tree growth and detect tree diseases. A smooth cut of the tree’s trunk can also show biologists a lot about its growing stages and any changes that occurred in the surrounding environment!

Now let’s look at down trees as a photographic exploration.

Tree rings

Tree rings are such a unique way to engage in photograph stories. If you don’t know about dendrochronology, it’s worth it to learn some basic information. 

Each ring can tell so many stories. You can tell how old the tree is and any stresses that the tree endured during its growth. The change in the climate could cause stress, heaving rain, or drought to even loss of sunlight. 

Dendrochronology is the dating and study of annual rings in trees.

Dendrochronologist is a person who studies tree rings to determine dates and the chronological order of past events.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to dendrochronology, and as photographers, learning the basics can help you bring a story to your tree ring photos.  

Sparkling Sap

Sticky but sparkly. Getting that shot can be a challenge because sometimes the camera doesn’t always pick up what you see with your own eyes—lower f-stops for that bokeh effect and higher f-stops for the sparkles. Don’t forget to adjust your exposure compensation.

The Roots

If you happen to come across an uprooted pine tree, the depth of its root system is immaculate! There are years, if not hundreds of years of growth underneath the soil, not only from the uprooted tree but the network of roots from the surrounding trees.

What I find so interesting is the soil. The coloration, design, and texture are amazing as well as photographically inspiring. 

*Remember that wildlife will take refuge or create a home from those uprooted trees, so be cautious and mindful when approaching the area. 

Seeing and creating your photography is an ever-changing journey. I hope that these posts help you engage and re-invent the way you photograph and develop a new vision in nature photography.

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