A Fall Day in Smithfield, 2011
It's fall, which means that we observational photographers are obligated to do something with colorful leaves.
I love fall. Growing up as I did near the ocean, where pines were about the only trees that would thrive in our sandy soil, I didn't really experience fall at its fullest until I moved a hundred miles west for college. It's safe to say I was smitten by all the things leaves do in the fall. I even made spending money in college raking leaves for people who lived near the college campus. So you could say I not only enjoyed watching the leaves change colors and carpet the ground when they fell, but made money picking them back up again.
It's always seemed ironic that nature puts on one of its most colorful shows as a prelude to moving all the action under the ground. While roots stretch out and make plans for next spring's rebirth--there's even a fair bit of literature about how what draws so many people to gardening is the annual cycle of birth and death--for the next several months it'll be nothing but bare limbs. In photographs trees will become dark, densely patterned shapes to use as contrast against gray/white winter skies. Tree trunks will be photographed in hundreds of photography classes in response to assignments about “texture.”
But for now many of the trees around here are still full of colorful leaves and we photographers will just have to cope with that. I make it sound bad; colorful leaves can be so awe-inspiring that you'd wonder why I might look upon this as a problem. But the truth is, most photographs of fall leaves are so hackneyed that after that first second or two of awe, you'll forget you ever saw them because they look just like the thousands of pictures of colorful leaves you've seen before.
A situation like this ought to be the inspiration for taking pictures of fall leaves that are new and interesting. But sometimes, like this past Saturday when I was taking a walk in Smithfield, Virginia, while my wife was doing some Christmas shopping nearby, I came upon the scene above and couldn't begin to think of doing anything more interesting or unexpected than letting my jaw drop at the sight of nature's glory and capturing what I saw.
So if you happen to follow my daily picture posts at Flickr, you're just going to have to endure some cliche shots of colorful leaves until I get this bout of "expected" pictures out of my system.
Cue the falling leaves! I'm ready.