A Tree in the City and the Photo-Heart Connection

City Shadows

Tree in the City © 2012 Bo Mackison

I have been following a photographer, Kat Sloma, whose photos and words speak to me in a kindred sort of way, even though we do not know each other, have never met, have not connected in the blogging world way of comments passing back and forth. And yet, I have felt a connection for many months. Then I read Kat’s words a few weeks ago, and was struck by many commonalities.

I’ll quote her words, a summation of things I also have been thinking about.

“…this theme of connection keeps coming up. I want to extend the connection I find through Find Your Eye [an online course Kat teaches which I have only read about] to everyone, so I’ve brainstormed this new idea for a monthly blog series:The Photo-Heart Connection.

The idea: At the end of each month, review the images you worked with in that month for the one that gives you the strongest connection to your heart and soul. Write about that connection to the image in a blog post or in a photo description on Flickr, then link into the monthly link up. You can get to know the other photographers seeking the same connection, by visiting the links and reading their experiences. We will find our kindred spirits.”  ~ Kat of Kat Eye Studio


Intending to do this, I went through only my Flickr photographs thinking that I would more likely sort through a hundred edited photos compared to a thousand in un-edited form. Since I was in the Southwest all of February, living on the fringe of the Sonoran Desert, I thought naturally I would pick one of my desert photos. After all, one of the reasons I am in Tucson is because I feel a deep connection to the desert. But as I watched the slideshow of my February photos, one kept catching my eye.

Yep, the shadow photo above. I t was taken in a tree-lined courtyard of the Tucson Museum of Art. I had gone to see a photo exhibit of Nickolas Muray, the personal photographer (and sometimes lover) of artist Frida Kahlo. There was no personal photography allowed in the museum exhibit itself, but I found myself taking copious notes as I studied each photograph.

Then I wandered outside, through the courtyards of the museum, and began photographing the museum grounds and the nearby historic Presidio of Tucson.

This is the photo I chose to represent “the strongest connection to [my] heart and soul”. Part of my choice was influenced by the strong colors, the strong lines, the balance of top and bottom (something I seldom do). But I think the decision-maker was the composition of the tree and its branches. The shadows head off in unexpected directions.

Just where is the tree? And why is there an uneven continuity when the shadow on the pavement meets the shadow on the wall? Does the photo represent a tangled mess or a continuity? What is the relationship of nature (or nature’s shadow) and the man-made wall and walking surface?

I chose this photo as my photo of February because of all the questions it asks me. And because of the challenge it gives me to answer those questions.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC, living and photographing in southern Arizona. She is quite enthralled with the idea of choosing one photo each month as her heart-photo connection. Everyone is welcome to participate, per Kat’s website info, so check out the project if it appeals to you.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. One of these months I hope to participate in Kat’s project.

    Wonderful image. Love the strong colors and lines. I, too, like the top and bottom and how they are similar and different. A very strong image. Thanks for sharing it and reflecting on it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Anita. I find this photo one of only a few I have taken that I keep coming back to, studying the lines, trying to decipher what the strengths of the composition are. I haven’t quite figured out why I am so attracted to photo.

  2. Very strong/crisp colors – nice image. Sounds like a very intersting exhibit.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It was a stunning exhibit. I especially liked studying the photographs of Frida Kahlo in her studio, with a familiar painting, half finished, propped on her easel, and her brushes in hand.

  3. I love the photo Bo, and I love the question: just where *is* the tree?!

    Thank you for your constant inspiration.

  4. What a beautiful image! Really love the colours- I can see why this one caught you eye.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Leanne. I am still studying it, and it doesn’t appear to be that complicated of a photograph at first glance.

  5. This is stunning! My first quick thought was the it was two pictures! I love the shape of the shadow, the direction it takes, and I love the beautiful color on the wall! No wonder you kept coming back to this one!! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving your kind comment!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It does give the impression of being two distinct photos, doesn’t it? A bit of a distraction and a bit of a puzzler.

  6. I’ve studied this for several minutes and haven’t been able to answer even one of the questions you posed! A mystery for sure! So glad you decided to join Photo-Heart Connection–and I’ll look forward to seeing other contributions too.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Wanda, I’m a little relieved you admitted to having no answers. I’ve studied it a bit too, and have decided to just enjoy it for the color and lines. 🙂

  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous shot. I think the colors are what grabbed me most. Of course where “is” the tree makes me instantly think of Magritte for some reason. I wandered all through your blog, we have family in Tucson and I am so drawn to the desert and the light, enjoyed immensely your other photographs. Your paintings, too are just exquisite. Thanks for commenting on my post so that I could discover your wonderful blog.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I’m so glad you took a trip through my blog. Yes, the desert is an alluring, addictive place, especially once you get to know more than the stereotype. I too love the desert and the desert light…and Tucson. Thank you, hope you’ll be back to enjoy a little more of Tucson and area.

  8. Just lovely–the idea, the color, the shadow. The location of the tree didn’t seem to bother me that much–of course, I’m easily pleased and happy with the photo the way it is. And the tree? Someplace between the wall and the sun.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I love this photo, too — but then I do love shadow photos. Thank you.

      And yes, I was waiting for someone to say the tree was between the sun and the wall. 🙂 That’s not quite what I meant, but it is surely a correct answer. LOL.

  9. I have to agree with the others here, that this is an excellent image. The color, the shadows, the mystery location of the tree, all these factors just make it so appealing. Thanks for your kind comment on my blog. Glad I found your website!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you , Deborah. I’m glad you found my website, too. Kat’s idea for spreading connections seems to be off to a great start. So many talented and thought provoking participants!

  10. WOW – that is an amazing photograph! So beautiful and interesting! I actually wondered the same thing: how is there a continuity like that in the shadow? I also love the colors of the wall and walk. Simply stunning.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Laura. I, too, love this photo for the immediate questions it provokes, even though with a careful look, the tree’s shadow and its continuity up the wall is most evident. It’s a great pink color for a wall, don;t you think? 🙂

  11. I love the color and abstract feeling in your photo. The magenta is wonderful! Interesting photo!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      A magenta wall! Who would expect to see such a thing, except in the Southwest which luxuriates in bright colors. 🙂

  12. That photo is an eye catcher. The lines are simply captivating. The patterns and color really grabbed my attention. Enjoyed it much. Thanks

  13. Kat Sloma says:

    Bo, it is so wonderful to “meet” you in the Photo-Heart Connection! I can’t think of a better way to connect with you online. I love this photo. While dimensionless itself, the shadow on the two surfaces gives a dimension to a scene that would otherwise look very flat. I like the colors too! Sometimes it’s the simplest things that connect to our heart in a deep way.

  14. This is a beautiful image, Bo, and I wondered too… where is the tree?? 🙂

  15. Fantastic image, Bo. Now that you’ve introduced us all to Kat I’ll have to go check out her blog …. after I finish catching up with yours! Great post. Maybe I’ll have time to consider the Photo-Heart Connection as well.

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