On a recent trip to Tohoku, photographer Naoya Hatakeyama took a picture of a tree. It wasn't a particularly remarkable tree, but it caught his attention all the same.

In Hatakeyama's photo the tree stands in the middle distance, right in the center of the image. It is framed by a brilliant blue sky and clouds — perfect late summer weather. There is tall grass in the foreground, but the eye drifts back to the tree. A concrete bridge, a green-and-grey horizontal divide across the image, intersects the tree in the background and beyond that is a forest. But the photograph's composition forces you back to the tree, standing alone and strong.

Eventually you notice that half of the tree has hundreds of small green leaves but the other half is dead, branches pointing naked into the sky. Perhaps it's a trick of the light, but somehow the dead branches seem darker than the branches with the lush leaves.