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featured photo story: May 2000

I ignored some rules of web design here, so you could experience this object in the same way I did.

It's a piece of bog wood, about my height, and when I found it, the only way I could inspect it up close was to lift it up through my hands, all the while "scrolling down" with my eyes.

These pieces of bog wood are petrified, perfectly preserved, for thousands of years. Look at the shape of this tree - it looks like a model from "Jurassic Park".

It is widely held that, before recorded time, here in Donegal, when the bog itself was still woodland, a vast forest fire raged for weeks, and every tree was razed to the ground, and the very earth scorched. The evidence for this is in specimens such as this one, scorched on one side only - the side that was uppermost in the soft forest floor where they lay.

After I had dragged my trophy down (ecologically sound - logs and "creggans", or roots, are cleared anyway for turf-cutting in the summer months), I set about with the 5x4" camera.

I wanted to get it shot and I only had Polaroid in, so this was scanned in from B+W and a Photoshop Tritone conversion applied for the sepia tone. Lighting was light painting on an open shutter in blackout, so that I could emphasise the nodes where the branches used to grow from, and cover it at all angles for maximum textural effect. Because it was Polaroid, I just guessed the exposure, but I'll be honest, this was the 3rd attempt. The light source was the modelling light from a Quad 3K head fitted with a snoot, but you don't need fancy lighting - a friend of mine back in Glasgow lights complicated advertising shots this way with only a Duracell torch. If you're reading, Colin, fair play to you boy, as we say in Donegal!

The tree was then planted in our garden, and, with other found objects, makes a pleasing sculpture which we can see every morning from the bedroom window.