I was contemplating what I was thankful about this year and the list was much longer than I expected. I was especially surprised to see that I had two columns on my list, one for the things that I am "Thankful For" and the other labelled, "No Thanks", and the column of "Thankful For" was extremely long and full of richness.
One of the things that I was very thankful for this year was a very long and beautiful fall. It gave me pause when I saw it on my list and then I realized that many of my activities since mid-Sept were centralized around capturing fall color and the beauty around me where I live.
But before I share a few of my photos, I have to share a few conversations, books and photo workshops that influenced my capturing of Fall Colors around my home.
The first influence was one of those things that just happened and the person who provided this gift probably will never realize it's impact. As a Christmas present way back in 1998, I received a book called "Photographing the World Around You: A Visual Design Workshop" by Freeman Patterson. It literally changed the way I think about and approach photography. I was thinking that nature photography was all about going to special spots and capturing a photo that would represent some sort of "trophy" of the moment. And at that time, since it was still film, I wouldn't see the results of my nature journey until much later. Often with disappointment since I didn't seem to capture the moment as adeptly as what I saw in National Geographic or Popular Photography. I set those thoughts aside for a few years until I was able to take a workshop from Freeman Patterson in 2008, and my eyes were opened and I was given the gift of truly seeing the world around me.
Since that time, I've been able to take a number of workshops with Freeman Patterson and with Andre Gallant, his teaching partner. Since 2012, I've been working on taking a at least one photo every day, usually capturing whatever there is around me whether near my home or while I was traveling for work. Since 2012, I've been living the spirit of "Photographing the World Around ME".
And, at first, I wasn't mindfully capturing the world around me. It was a subconscious force that compelled me to compose and then capture an image that gave me joy and interpreted what I saw in my world. I used the visual elements of design that Freeman so graciously shared in his workshop and his many books (Photography and the Art of Seeing, editions 3 and 4, Photographing the World Around You, edition 1994, Photography for the Joy of It, 30th anniversary edition, Photography of Natural Things, 4th edition).
Fast forward to this year....my Dad is temporarily living with us during the cold and snowy months of January to March. Most days we took drives around my home town and my Dad pointed out how beautiful my area is. I didn't realize how influential his observation was. Subconsciously I've been experiencing that for years as I took photos around me, but it didn't really hit me until my Dad's observation.
So, I started my fall discovery journey on Sept 16 and ended just a few days ago when the first snow fell. And now I share a few of the photos and a little bit of the story behind it.
One of my first photos was taken during a hike that I do often in High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin. On Sept 20, the area was pretty green with just a few trees starting to change in color and the Sumacs was just starting to turn to red. As I hiked with my husband, I noticed this wonderful set of trees, a small grove, that was just changing. I was also thinking that in a couple of days, I would be in Colorado along the Million Dollar Highway between Ridgway and Durango and would expect to see lots and lots of Aspen that would have a magnificent yellow color. But I wasn't sure if we would be in Colorado during peak color or whether the leaves had already fallen. So, I thought I would take advantage of the colors, in the here and now.
What attracted me to this image was the yellow color of the leaves in the upper canopy. Plus, I loved the triangle formed by the green evergreen and several of the trees, It seemed like there was an archway over the green evergreen. If you really look closely enough, then you will see another triangle at the left, with just the trees and yellow leave. And the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, enhanced even further by my polarizing filter. I felt truly in the moment and truly alive.
Another part of the journey was to catch the water and the waterways in our area. Our area, The Fox Cities, was built around the river. First it was fur trading and then a long history of paper making (and associated industries). All of this made possible by water. There is a "stairway" of 17 locks that gradually take you from our area to Green Bay, and eventually to the Great Lakes. I was taking a long walk right before Thanksgiving and was able to catch a "little bit of heaven" with the clouds reflected in the water by one of the Kaukauna Locks.
I was standing by the bridge and overwhelmed by it's beauty. I wasn't expecting it at all since the day was partly cloudy (with all of its clouds) and the wind was one of those biting winds that just went through you even if most wouldn't say it was a windy day. I had bundled up for the walk and braced myself for the weather. It turned out to be one of my fantastic walks of the Fall. There were very few people on the trail and the silence was pleasingly welcome. There were still a few leaves left on the trees and one of the channels was isolated from the wind and there were beautiful reflections. Reflections that were in sync with the calmness that I felt during my walk. Almost sublime.
And then there were days when I wrong turn (or an intentional "other" turn) caused me to drop my jaw as I looked at the marvelous color. Here's one example from Plamann Park where I took a walk down the road which wasn't my intended destination. I just loved how the fence rail hangs with the color surrounding it.
Another "wrong" turn resulted in this series of flaming maples trees. I usually drive into Memorial Park using the other entrance. For some reason, I turned left instead of going straight and was amazed at the "just right" red. An unexpected delight.
And my last photo of this series is in Oshkosh near Menominee Park. It's a boat launch, but you can't park there. I saw the color and then just had to drive around the block to find a parking place. The yellows and oranges were truly a sight to behold against the backdrop of Lake Winnebago.
This is just a peak of the many images that I took around where I live. I am looking forward to continuing to pour over them and remember all of those special moments in time and the conversations with people that got me to look more closely to my world.