In 2012,photographer Mark Hirsch was in a serious automobile accident that left him with severe injuries. His condition forced him to rest his body for three months with very little activity.
“It was a physically and emotionally challenging experience,” he says.
Around the same time, he bought an iPhone, and a friend, raving about the phone’s camera, challenged him to use it for serious photography.
After Hirsch posted two beautiful pictures of a tree in a cornfield near his Wisconsin home, his friend suggested he use the iPhone to take a photo a day of the tree for a year.
Hirsch rose to the technological and creative dare, shooting the tree from hundreds of angles in all conditions, calling it “challenging but also quite liberating.”
His project, “That Tree,” has been recently compiled into a book and a calendar. We asked Hirsch to share three weeks of images in chronological order with us, along with his own captions from each day. You can the whole year on his website and his Facebook page.
February 19, Day 333: 'It was a howling, blowing snow morning. Air temp, 1 degree. Wind chill, -19. Experiential rating, perfect!'
February 20, Day 334: 'Contrasty, cold, and colourful! It was a brisk but sunny -2 when my publishing partner Warren Winter and I headed out to wait for this mornings sunrise. I photographed That Tree and he photographed me.'
February 21, Day 335: 'Destined to be the heart of a future oak, an acorn and fallen leaf ar exposed by the recent thaw. By the end of the day, they are forecast to be buried under a fresh blanket of six to eight inches of snow.'
February 22, Day 336: 'Rooted in a land once dominated by tall grass prairie and oak savannah, That Tree stands as a reminder of what once was.'
February 23, Day 337: 'I found myself cradled in her enduring embrace for a delightfully lofty perspective.'
February 24, Day 338: 'Bold blue skies highlighted hoarfrost crystals coating the outer branches of That Tree.'
February 26, Day 340: 'Witnessing the pastel hues, wispy tendrils, and heart warming glow of last night's sunset, my gloomy morning photos just didn't inspire me.'
February 28, Day 342: 'With the grayness of the day making me blue, I opted to embrace the cool hues of dusk to dress up a familiar scene.'
March 1, Day 343: 'I had a crazy busy day which concluded with a fun interview with the Sierra Club. I made a late trek out to shoot my tree photo and discovered this record of last night's acorn foraging feast by the deer.'
March 2, Day 344: 'Just before sunrise, a waning moon hangs in the morning sky framed by the gnarly branches of That Tree.'
March 3, Day 345: 'Looking so hard for that perfect image has made me blind to the simple beauty of first light, a pastoral landscape and the enduring presence of a sentinel oak.'
March 4, Day 346: 'My occasional fortune with lighting makes me wonder about the power of That Tree. I spent an hour wandering visually, settling down to wait and watch. The sky opened up with colour and light allowing me to capture the scene. The sky closed and I walked back to reality.'
March 5, Day 347: 'Winter's lingering grasp leaves That Tree standing tall on a landscape whitewashed with new fallen snow.'
March 6, Day 348: 'I had an incredible day. Seems fitting that it concluded with this glorious sunset over That Tree.'
March 8, Day 350: 'With frost crystals twinkling on the wilted grasses, That Tree is dwarfed on the horizon against a sunny blue sky.'
March 9, Day 351: 'It was early evening before I headed out in the cold rainy weather seeking today's photo. Extremely difficult shooting conditions.'
March 10, Day 352: 'Like the seasonal passing of time, a transient river carries away winter's veil.'
March 11, Day 353: 'A grey day ends with my late afternoon visit to That Tree in search of another photo. My quest fulfilled by a simple discovery.'
Looking back, Hirsch now also believes that project helped him heal from the unforeseen mental trauma of his car accident.
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