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Soul-Stirring Infrared Time-Lapse Captures a Haunting Portrait of an Endangered Hawaiian Tree


The video above by photographer Gary Yost is remarkable for two reasons. The first is that it was shot in true infrared, with a camera that had a 650 nanometer conversion applied. The second, is that the haunting, stirring quality of the time-lapse serves a greater purpose than simply offering a novel look at the Hawaiian landscape.

The subjects of the video are skeletons of the endangered Māmane trees of Hawaii. “A powerful metaphor,” Yost says, “for how outsiders have crushed the native Hawaiian ecology.”

Set to an ancient Hawaiian chant, the shots are simple: well-composed images of the trees captured from below so that the their skeletal remains are juxtaposed against the ephemeral clouds above — wisps that are here one moment and gone the next.

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Then, at the end of the video, Yost combines time-lapse with infrared slow-motion video of a Hawaiian “akua” (or spirit) walking alongside one of the trees, further driving home his ecological point — it makes for an unsettling and poignant tribute.

Check out the video at the top to see it for yourself, and then head over to Yost’s website by clicking here if you’d like to explore more of his work.