This is the second year the local Japanese gardens has put on a Christmas light display. Prior to last year, the gardens were closed all winter. I took my camera and headed out for a stroll around the illuminated gardens and a few shots for the blog. The colors on the trees and remaining foliage were bit magical, and the moon was full and shone almost as the star of Bethlehem. As we emerge from the longest night, I wish you all light, joy, and a Merry Christmas.
Admittedly, this is late for a fall post, but I’ve been thinking big picture, so I want to back off a bit and take a broader look at the Holidays. Life, nature, and our celebrations all parallel each other. I begin my celebrations in October. As everything starts drying up and dying, I plant bulbs in the hope that spring will come and new life will emerge from the ground. I take long walks to appreciate the beauty that the end of this year’s life brings – the forests are as a cathedral and the illuminated leaves are as stained glass.
The end – with all its beauty – is as an aged soul filled with years of stories and wisdom. It is our sadness to lose it, but we know another fall will come. There will be more – but no two quite the same.
Winter, cold, and darkness then set in. We fill our homes with light and warm bright colors to help us cope. We have parties and gather with our loved ones seeking joy and hope. We put up evergreens or their likenesses to remind us that there is always life – even in the coldest and darkest times.
For many of us, there are holes as we miss a departed loved one we used to celebrate with. We miss their beauty – whatever season of life they were in when we lost them. Personally, I spent many a Christmas with my loving Grandma. I miss her more this time of year. There is a hole in my celebrations. There will be more holes in the future. I live in the hope that death is but a dormant state – a winter. I live in the belief that they live on in heaven. I live with a calling to expand my circle of love. Let there be light, hope, and joy for all of us always.
I hadn’t been our to shoot for a while, so I went our on Labor Day to warm up a bit for the fall photo season. A few stray branches were starting to turn a little bit, but it was still mostly summer vegetation.
It was cloudy and a little rainy, but a few bees were still out. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of mosquitos.
I decided to photograph one landscape. There were some lovely oak trees. The photo wasn’t working for me. After attending a photo club meeting with a black and white contest, I decided to convert the photo to black and white.
No, I did not plan to quit blogging this year. My goal for this year is ten posts. These photos are from mid January. Not too long after that, I decided my nearly ten year old monitor wasn’t cutting it for photo editing, so I needed to research, order, and set up a new one before posting again. Winter’s not quite over. These are from a local wetlands. It was a late scouting trip.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot to keep me busy lately, so I focused on making sure the photos exist. Seasons are fleeting. I can always edit and post later.
Dad and I journeyed to Governor Dodge State Park in Wisconsin. It was the first time we’d hiked a state park in Wisconsin. They’re a little different than what we’re used to, and our map reading and navigational skills were rusty. We got lost. Eventually, we found the waterfall. It’s an odd one: one big rock with a stream trickling over it.
We hung around the “canyon” for a bit.
When we were done at the waterfall, we headed out the scenic route. Not only was it prettier, but it didn’t involve a tall, slippery stone, uh, “staircase”. Dad was happy about both of those qualifications.
We decided the “scenic route” to the waterfall is the most photogenic part of the park, and we should return in the future. Hopefully, we won’t get lost next time.
In mid August, I went for my first hike since foot surgery. Hot weather and time constraints kept me from venturing out sooner. Returning to my favorite woods after a couple months felt like a long awaited breath of fresh air. As I walked along the familiar trails late that afternoon, I felt summer fading away.
The sun was low and the late summer flowers were moving gently in a light breeze.
I continued on to my favorite spring wildflower site. It was now overgrown with nothing but green. Fall will change it, and winter will change it again. Summer is certainly the least photogenic season for that area of the park. It makes me want fall.
However, as I continued out of the park, the fading sun and fading milkweed made me realize I should enjoy the season presently slipping through my fingers.
I stayed late and photographed the moon at dusk. Remind me not to rush ahead thinking the next season of life will make all things better. Remind me to stop and enjoy the good in what I have now. If I rush through life, I will miss so much texture, so much joy, and so much beauty.
We had an unusually warm day in November. Most of the leaves were down, but it was such a nice day, so I decided to go out anyway. Who would want to waste the one last nice day of the year?
Christmas is coming soon. I do plan to do one last post for the year with a Christmas theme, but there is something that has been on my mind lately. I know the holidays will be different for many people this year. They will certainly be different for me from this year on. So take the pictures. Everything ends. Everyone dies. You never know when it will be the last day or the last Christmas for a loved one, a home, a relationship, a tradition, or a pet. I made the decision to haul my DSLR and speedlight to a crowded family gathering last Christmas. It was the last Christmas for someone there. My sister recently asked for the picture of us. We would not have a good one if I hadn’t brought the camera. Take the pictures. No regrets.
My apologies for not blogging in October. I will have to blog twice in November to make up for it. Fortunately, I’ve been out to shoot three times since I last blogged, so I have material.
My first shoot for the fall was at a local forest preserve I enjoy. There was lots of colorful ivy on the trees.
One of my favorite things about going out in nature is that it is always changing and full of detail. There is always something different, something I haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in this light. To me, this tree trunk looks like the head of an animal with its mouth open. What do you think?
I don’t think I’ve ever photographed the pond much, but I liked it that day. I liked all the leaves blowing in the wind and the late afternoon sun.
I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some lovely fall scenery where ever you live.
My last photo outing was in early July, and I’ve finally edited it for the blog. There are a lot of other things on my mind right now, as there have been for the past several weeks, but at some point, a person has to move on.
It was a lovely early July day. I met my father out at a local forest preserve.
My intention was to photograph wildflowers, but I didn’t find much that interested me. Lighting was also a bit stark.
I ended up photographing the pink clover, blue cornflower, and grasses at the entry to my parent’s subdivision. There were some bugs as well, including our much hated invasive Japanese beetles.
Summer is about over now. Time to think about fall. This next month will probably not be the best for me, but I might try to get out for photography or do some still life. I’m not sure what my official September blog will be, but I hope I’ll have some good fall photos for October and November.
A few weeks back, I went out to a more distant, more in-town kind of park. It is in another city not too far from me. The weather that days was not the best. Dark, cloudy, and somewhat windy. It had snowed recently, then mostly thawed. I had missed peak color. We actually had snow on Halloween and several times after. Not good for any outdoor fall activity. I had to make compromises with ISO and shutter speed. Most of the photos are OK for the blog, but they wouldn’t do well as sizable prints.
Many of the trees along the river were bare.
Oddly enough, the geese cooperated.
The flag above the trees.
I found a stationary subject, so I walked back to the car and got my tripod. Worth it. I like the curve and the way the fungus is on it.
Happy Thanksgiving! Sort of a cultural farewell to fall, or more like the day when we temporarily extract our heads from our Santa hats to give thanks and eat turkey before plunging into Christmas for the next entire month. Naturally, I plan to do a Christmas post next month.
Back in August, my dad and I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes again. It was my second time there. Weather was not optimal (wind) and we were squeezing the outing in between much needed time visiting family. I did get a few quick shots, but no waiting around for people to be out of the picture. I photoshopped them out. Not the best way to do things, but it worked in a pinch.
Some weeks ago, Dad and I ran away from the deck and other house projects to find the last traces of fall with our cameras. We had to go south a ways. Since it wasn’t the best day, we decided to make the trip double as a scouting expedition of Matthiessen State Park. We’d been to Starved Rock several times, but Matthiessen never got past “if we have time”.
It so happens lots of people wanted to enjoy the end of fall. There was also an enormous geology class field trip. However, both of us did manage to get a clear shot of the dells and some other photos of the scenery.
Next Time: Merry Christmas
My goal this year was to blog once a month. I’ve been a few hours late a couple of times, and I’ve used a good bit of “archive” shot in previous years, but I’m calling it close enough. One more blog in observance of Christmas is all I need.
These photos were taken on the 30th of September 2017, an entire year ago. It was a beautiful day. I was visiting my parents about two years after moving out on my own. I don’t live that far, but it’s far enough and I’m busy enough that I don’t get out to the parks and forest preserves I used to frequent. Dad and I went on a long photo hike that day. We went to the park with the confusing set of foot trails and horse trails (where you need to watch where you step), with streams, woods, meadows, and hills. No fall color at that point, but the vegetation was browning and fading for the year.
We crossed out of the woods up the hills towards the horse path area. There were trees and a stream.
We continued to the horse path area because there was milkweed there, and Dad loves to photograph milkweed. I’m sure he has better pictures. It is a small obsession of his.
Then, we ended up out on a country road a little uncertain of exactly where we were. We found our way back to the park entrance. I kept getting gravel in my shoes and having to empty them. Does that matter a year later? No, but it’s part of the experience. Kind of a minor slightly humorous inconvenience.
We had the light, the nature, the photos, the time together. It was a beautiful day. Not perfect. Just beautiful.
Last fall, someone in the photo club told my father about a “waterfall” not too far from where we live. Technically, it isn’t a waterfall. It’s a man-made spillway, but it looks like a waterfall. The spillway was not easy to find. At one point, we gave up looking and decided to go to a park in the area instead. However, when we stopped at the park office, we found a sign featuring a large photo of the waterfall and the words “are you looking for this?” It then provided directions. Thus we continued in our hunt, but it still wasn’t easy. Roads were under construction or had similar names, I couldn’t get the maps app on my phone to work because the cell service was spotty, and we had to be careful to stay off private property in the area. The spillway was located right off the road. You had to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see it though. After a considerable bit of driving around in circles, we finally found it.
While Dad was photographing it with his view camera, I found a Japanese beetle on a wildflower to photograph.
It was a long day, but we found what we were looking for. Sometimes, persistence does pay off.
Several weeks ago, I went out for my last Fall shoot of the year. There wasn’t much left, but the colors were vibrant.
Earlier this month, my family and I took a trip to Michigan. Dad and I went to explore and photograph Sleeping Bear Dunes for a day. Dunes are new to me. I’m used to hiking in woodlands or prairies with black dirt and limestone.
Dad, on the other hand, grew up near the beach and close enough to a different set of dunes in southwestern Michigan. He takes to them both like second nature – skipping stones and scaling dunes despite the wind.
We spent most of the morning and early afternoon scouting out the place, then came back to some of the more interesting spots later in the day. This is particularly important for Dad, since he shoots 4X5 and has a lot of gear to haul.
Eventually, he settled on an old Coast Guard station and museum in the area. I took a few pictures of the place as well.
Overall, we had a good long day out. I hope to go back and explore it some more next year.
Next Time: Waterfalls
Photos from the expedition to Starved Rock.
Fall is about over where I live. Fortunately, I was able to get out and take photos a few weeks ago to remind me of the beauty and color of the season.
This fungi is from one of my old favorite places to go shoot. I photographed this the same day as the fog photos in my last post.
Later, I explored a new park recommended by members of the photo club.
The park featured this amazing old oak tree and lovely yellow bush.
Good bye for now Fall. I have a few more photos I might post, but I think it is time to move indoors for a while.
Next Time: More Fall or Still Life
Halloween is a traditional time for foggy scenery, but these photos aren’t creepy. This is more of a we had some light fog yesterday morning post than a Halloween post. I haven’t played with fog much, so I was excited to get out and experiment a bit yesterday morning.
Next Time: Fall Nature
It’s so lovely out that I’ve been compelled to spend more time than usual shooting.
I decided to escape the harsh winter with its dastardly polar vortex by travelling to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Domes. The sheer joy of heat, humidity, and plants in the tropical dome was well worth the visit. The show dome was a bit less impressive (in my opinion anyway), but I still enjoyed the cute model trains. It didn’t seem like the kind of establishment that would bless the presence of my bulky old “made in West Germany” tripod that was actually made for smaller motion-picture cameras, so I shot with a high ISO and fairly open apeture.
Next Time: Still Life or Black on Black
Winter has been cold and snowy for the most part. Last weekend, I braved the icy roads and took a few snow photos at a local park.
Next Time: Frozen Waterfalls
A week after my lone, cloudy weather excursion, I returned to the same park in sunny weather and accompanied by my father. Dad shoots with a view camera and 4″x5″ film. He was lured by the promise of aspen trees in their fall grandeur. I really wanted to check out the south trails of the park, which are farther down the curvy two-lane highway from the north trails I visited the previous week. Unfortunately, hunting is permitted in south trails all fall, and Dad and I had no desire to get accidentally shot. However, we were able to explore the large rock formations by the river.
After lunch, we headed back to the north section of the park. Dad found his aspens, and since I joined him in surveying, I thought I’d take a photo as well.
Later in the day, I found this tree. I loved how dramatically the sun was hitting it and illuminating the leaves.
Jewelry or archive portrait.
Last week, I finally got out to the woods for a nice long walk. It just happened to be the peak weekend for fall color in my area. The trees were arrayed in brilliant red and yellow with the late afternoon sun highlighting them.
Next Time: More fall nature from a new (to me anyway) park.
Yesterday, my dad and I went for another forest preserve hike. It looked more like the day after Thanksgiving than the 26th of December. Little ice was present, and we had no snow at all. I was going to do a straight interpretation of the photos, but I just bought Lightroom (bought, not a trial), and the simple form and texture images seemed to lend themselves to a split-toning experiment.
The reflection of the trees was not split-toned. I liked it better with the gradation from light yellow to blue.
Next Week: Retrospective
After a week of unseasonably high temperatures, we were treated to several days of rain followed by cold, windy weather. This is not ultra conducive to photography, but I did manage to get a few shots that do a pretty good job of conveying the fall color in our area. Which, as of right now, is very little. The ash trees are mostly bare with a few yellow and brown leaves clinging to their branches.
On the other hand, our maple trees have hardly started turning color. Even the burning bush is in the beginning stages of its fall transformation. At least it has some brilliant red.
Patience, patience, I tell myself. It will come. It’s only a matter of time.
Next Week: Abstract
Yes, I’m feeling like it’s time for another of my weird abstract posts. This one will probably include natural objects, but I’m not sure yet.