A wood spirit is any naturally occurring image found in wood growth that suggests anthropomorphic or animalistic features. It's fun to look for them, fun to photograph them and fun to share them with others. Read on.
We're not really sure. Although many theories exist, three are prominent: 1) some believe the spirit of a past person or animal retains enough life force to reemerge in the real world with the assistance of the tree's growth. 2) Perhaps trees aspire to be human or animal and occasionally express this desire through the creation of wood spirits. 3) (A variation of 1) More ominously, trees may harbor tormented spirits of past living beings who make periodic attempts to escape. No one has ever seen or captured on film the actual emergence of a wood spirit. Nor has anyone ever been able to interrogate a wood spirit to discover more of their origins.
David Saxe has been collecting photographs of wood spirits for some time. The easiest way to see more wood spirits is to visit our online store where David Saxe is showing his collection of nature photography, including pieces from his "Wood Spirits" portfolio. You can get prints or greeting cards with wood spirits and many other beautiful photographs.
If you bought a print of a wood spirit from David Saxe, then it was printed using Epson Ultrachrome inks and Epson Velvet Fine Art paper rated by Wilhelm Imaging Research to last for many years. Depending on whether you have framed your print and how it was framed, the ink and paper system may last for several lifetimes. Framing is always a good idea, correctly framed prints should last longer than unframed prints. If you are framing yourself, be sure to use acid free materials. Depending on where you display the artwork, you may also wish to use UV filtering glass. Water or just a damp environment are enemies of all fine art; keep your artwork in a dry, moisture-free area. Light will also eventually cause changes in the pigments that are used in most artwork, including wood spirits. Direct sunlight is the worst, but as a general rule, longer exposure times or brighter light sources will cause more damage. While storage in a dark, cold, atmospherically controlled environment may guarantee a nearly unlimited lifetime, who can enjoy it? Use common sense and display your artwork in normal interior lighting conditions to achieve a happy medium of longevity and enjoyment of your wood spirit.
In the wild, wood spirits occur any where that wood grows. After hunting wood spirits along the Lewis and Clark Trail and in the Northeast, David Saxe believes the best areas for finding wood spirits are rivers or coastlines with fallen timber, driftwood. But wood spirits are hearty and possibly sneaky travelers. Sometimes, if you look closely, you may even find them in furniture or interior wood trim. Try looking at the plywood underside of your most private dresser drawers! Of course, no one wishes to advertise that wood spirits have found their way into such personal locations, so you won't often find them pictured in these sites.
The best way to hunt wood spirits is to shoot them with a camera. Shooting them with guns or even bow and arrow tends to destroy them before capture. Trapping is generally unproductive as wood spirits are quite savvy and generally avoid all traps, even those baited with the best plant fertilizer. Some people use wood cutting implements to capture wood spirits or even to dig them out (the horror!) of their wooden homes, but we find this method unnatural and inhumane. Cameras are an environmentally sound way to capture and enjoy wood spirits while leaving them undisturbed in their natural habitat for others to discover and enjoy. If you subscribe to this method of hunting, a Wood Spirit License will demonstrate your pledge to sustainable wood spirit husbandry and conservation.
The answer is a qualified, yes. It is legal to hunt wood spirits at night, but is it wise? No one has ever seen a wood spirit emerge from its wooden home and this may be because they erupt only at night in the dark. While capture of this remarkable event in an image would be a laudable goal, it would require the use of lights or very expensive light enhancing imaging equipment to achieve a quality image. Lights might frighten the wood spirits and lessen the chances of observing the desired behavior. Moreover, because wood spirits are not keen on technical equipment, (See the note about their trap avoidance above.) it may be useless to employ ambient light and amplifying equipment. Finally, since no one has seen this event, we don't know if it is safe for humans to observe. Night hunting of wood spirits could be dangerous! So, if you need light to capture wood spirits and night hunting may be dangerous, why not just hunt during daylight hours and be safe?
It seems they do. The collective noun used to describe such congregations is a "host", although some people refer to them as a "jam". The latter term probably elicits from their propensity to being found in groups in jumbles of driftwood on beaches and river banks. Several of our wood spirits were shot in hosts.
A wood spirit license is a contract between the bearer and the State of Imagination that the bearer will only hunt wood spirits in a non destructive manner, leaving them in place for others to discover, enjoy and capture. The license is good anywhere that wood spirits occur naturally. Of course, as with any hunting, you must obey local laws and check with local authorities or owners for access to wood spirit habitat. While a license does not have an expiration date, conscientiously minded hunters will renew their license annually. You may order a license from USA Aloft, but you must be at least 13.
So far as we know, as long as you obey local laws and get permission from owners for access to wood spirit habitat, it is legal to hunt wood spirits without a license. However, a wood spirit license demonstrates your dedication to hunting wood spirits in a non destructive manner. It shows that you care about your prey and will conserve the natural resource for others. It also makes a pretty cool thing to whip out and show as you are taking photographs in the woods somewhere. If you really need legal advice about taking pictures, don't read this web page, talk to a lawyer! If you want to have fun as you hunt for wood spirits, get your own license.
USA Aloft will send you your very own Wood Spirit License bearing your picture from our online store. The credit card-sized license is printed using the same high quality printing system as our fine art images. The 9.7 mil paper is heavy stock similar to most paper licenses. You must be at least 13 to order. You must supply a digital picture, your information on our order form and a check. If you don't have a digital picture, we can scan a printed photo for an additional charge. Please allow two weeks for orders to be shipped.
* The information on this page is for entertainment only. However, David Saxe does take pictures of wood spirits for sale, the care instructions are intended to help you preserve fine artwork and USA Aloft does sell Wood Spirit Licenses.