Desert River That Looks Like Tree

Here’s an extraordinary shot taken by Adriana Franco, and chosen as one of the best submissions to National Geographic’s “My Shot” online community back in December 2011. What is so amazing about this photograph is that it shows a river in a desert in Baja California, Mexico. Have you by any chance mistaken it for a tree at first? You’re not alone!

This image has a wonderful texture that is almost surreal. At first glance, it’s hard to even distinguish what the subject of this photo is—is it snow? Some kind of microscopic leaf or moss? It’s just downright stunning as a desert aerial.” — Janna Dotschkal, NG photo editor

9 Replies to “Desert River That Looks Like Tree”

  1. Very interesting since rivers flow toward the ocean and need to have a source (e.g. mountain, melting snow, rain funneled from hillsides, etc); it is not apparent from the photo where the source of water may come from.

  2. I majored in geology in university, so I realized what it was immediately. Still, it’s the best picture I’ve ever seen of an aerial river.

  3. It always looked 2D so it looks like a waterpainting of a tree, rather than a tree.

    I also looks like blood vessels, or a lung or a whole bunch of other things that fall under this type of fractal.

    Fractals are awesome.

  4. As a matter of fact, this type of drainage system is known as a “Dendritic drainage basin” from the Greek word “dendrites,” meaning “of or pertaining to a tree”. Yes, they are beautiful from above, and the amazing thing is that each of the three systems is a separate watershed divided by some sort of elevated terrain feature!

  5. Thanks Ranger Jim. It’s been 30 yrs since university for me and I just couldn’t shake that out of my brain any more. LOL

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