Trunk Show: LARRY NIGHSWANDER

The Cummer Oak, one of Jacksonville Florida's oldest residents.

trees09.jpg
GARDEN TREE
The Trees: The Cummer Oak, a live oak at Jacksonville, Florida's Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
The Threat: Age and weather Read more about Larry Nighswander’s photos
Larry Nighswander

Now director of photography for Bonnier Corporation, Nighswander won the National Press Photographers Association 1993 Magazine Picture Editor of the Year award for his work on staff at National Geographic magazine. His previous photo editing experience included stints at The Cincinnati Post, The Columbus Dispatch, and The Washington Times. Nighswander’s photographs have been published in Time, People, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated, among many other magazines.

“Trees can’t follow a photographer’s directions,” says Larry Nighswander. “You can’t ask them to turn to the right or left, or move away from a building so you can get a better shot.” As a former picture editor for National Geographic, and now director of photography for Bonnier Corporation’s many magazines, Nighswander knows all about difficult subjects. And the Cummer Oak (Quercus virginiana), which was already a mature tree in the 1890s when its namesake family settled on the banks of Jacksonville, Florida’s St. Johns River, is a special challenge. Some of its lower branches swoop to the ground for support, rising back up again to continue their outward journey—a strategy that has helped extend the tree’s spread to nearly 200 feet.

The Cummer Oak’s size allows it to shade both the English- and Italian-style gardens on the property, the former created by such distinguished landscape designers as O.C. Simonds, Thomas Meehan & Sons, and the esteemed Olmsted firm, the latter by Ellen Shipman, perhaps the most prominent woman landscape architect of the early 20th century.

Though the museum now occupies the site of the original Cummer home—razed in 1960 because of termite damage, ironic given that the family’s wealth came from timber—it has been incorporated into the site with special attention to the oak. Some of its galleries were built on pilings to avoid destruction of the old oak’s root system. The tree’s branches have been cabled and braced to hold it together, and a lightning rod forestalls a strike that could bring it down. Its loss would be a huge blow to the site.

Nighswander chose to photograph the tree—known informally as a live oak, meaning that its leaves stay green throughout the winter—with a camera specially retrofitted to capture infrared radiation. The technique brings vivid life to its foliage by capturing the invisible wavelengths that organic substances reflect in abundance.

Back to Main Gallery ****

trees22.jpg
CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather Read more about Bob Hower’s photos
Bob Hower
trees23.jpg
CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways.
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather. Read more about Bob Hower’s photos.
Bob Hower
trees24.jpg
CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways.
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather. Read more about Bob Hower’s photos.
Bob Hower
trees10.jpg
PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos
Yong Hee Kim
trees11.jpg
PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park.
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance. Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos.
Yong Hee Kim
trees12.jpg
PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park.
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance. Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos.
Yong Hee Kim
trees01.jpg
AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY
The Threat: Dutch elm disease Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos
Garie Waltzer
trees02.jpg
AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY.
The Threat: Dutch elm disease. Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos.
Garie Waltzer
trees03.jpg
AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY.
The Threat: Dutch elm disease. Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos.
Garie Waltzer
trees26.jpg
FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
trees27.jpg
FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
trees28.jpg
FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction Read more about Jay Dickman’s photo.
Jay Dickman
trees29.jpg
FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
trees33.jpg
WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos__.
Amy Bedik
trees34.jpg
WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos.
Amy Bedik
trees35.jpg
WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos__.
Amy Bedik
trees19.jpg
ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC.
The Threat: Development, fire suppression. Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos.
Frank Hunter
trees20.jpg
ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC
The Threat: Development, fire suppression Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos
Frank Hunter
trees21.jpg
ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC.
The Threat: Development, fire suppression. Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos.
Frank Hunter
trees06.jpg
ROAD WARRIORS
The Trees: Three massive bark-cloth ficuses in San Juan, P.R.
The Threat: A major highway passing directly under the trees' canopy Read more about Juan A. Pons’ photos__.
Juan A. Pons
trees07.jpg
ROAD WARRIORS
The Trees: Three massive bark-cloth ficuses in San Juan, P.R.
The Threat: A major highway passing directly under the trees' canopy. Read more about Juan A. Pons’ photos.
Juan A. Pons
trees04.jpg
MALL WALKING
The Trees: Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston, MA
The Threat: Heavy use and Dutch elm disease Read more about James Sheldon’s photos
James Sheldon
trees05.jpg
MALL WALKING
The Trees: Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston, MA.
The Threat: Heavy use and Dutch elm disease. Read more about James Sheldon’s photos.
James Sheldon
trees09.jpg
GARDEN TREE
The Trees: The Cummer Oak, a live oak at Jacksonville, Florida's Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
The Threat: Age and weather Read more about Larry Nighswander’s photos
Larry Nighswander
treesnighswander02.jpg
GARDEN TREE
The Trees: The Cummer Oak, a live oak at Jacksonville, Florida's Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.
The Threat: Age and weather. Read more about Larry Nighswander’s photos
Larry Nighswander
trees30.jpg
WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos
Barbara Bosworth
trees31.jpg
WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos.
Barbara Bosworth
trees32.jpg
FOR THE AGES
The Tree: a massive black oak at the Katewood estate, Bratenahl, OH.
The Threat: Age and weather. Read more about Barbara Bosworth’s photos__.
Barbara Bosworth
trees13.jpg
THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
trees14.jpg
THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
trees15.jpg
THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
trees16.jpg
THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
trees17.jpg
TEST OF TIME
The Trees: A 100-year-old row of American sycamores in Ames, Iowa.
The Threat: Infrastructure development; flooding. Read more about Dave Jordano's photos.
Dave Jordano
trees18.jpg
TEST OF TIME
The Trees: A 100-year-old row of American sycamores in Ames, Iowa
The Threat: Infrastructure development; flooding Read more about Dave Jordano’s photos
Dave Jordano
ADVERTISEMENT