Kinda Fall Squares

Becky is enticing us to post square photos this month that relate in some way to “kind.” Thursday’s sunrise was showing bright in a clear blue sky so I decided to venture out on a photo mission to find some examples of fall. It has been the first time that I have ventured out on a photo taking excursion since the Naples Botanical Garden closed in February. I didn’t go out when we returned to Michigan in the spring, nor in the summer except when I took a few photos on outings with our travel trailer. Southern Michigan doesn’t get full color until late October but on the first of October there are kind-of hints of what is to come. For the past 10 years we have left for Florida before full color came.

We have been tidying up the garden getting it ready for the spring growth next April. It always feels like an act of faith, of hope for the future, when I cut back spent plants and pull up annuals with ideas of what I want to do next year. I convinced Jim that some of the fall flowers should be left for a little while longer – like the mums, asters (above), sedums, and zinnias. Cutting down blooming plants always feels very unkind to me – like cutting their life short.

Yesterday Jim pulled the giant marigolds by his shed. He was pushing them, roots down, into a large white cardboard container he uses to carry yard cuttings across the street. By the time he finished it looked like a 5 foot high bouquet in a white vase, bringing me some comic relief from the election stress. I thought the marigolds could have stayed in a few more days, but we all pick our battles and I know Jim wants to get his yard work done before the snow flies. Next week we will have several days of sun with temps in the high 60’s, perfect for finishing up my garden work. This year we won’t be going to Florida in the middle of October so we don’t feel the pressure of getting it done before we leave. And I will get to experience the full-on fall experience.

But for Thursday morning I had to be satisfied with mostly macro images of what are kind-of hints of what will be the full glory of fall color in the coming weeks. I headed for the wet-lands that are on Folks road and the Lime Lake County Park. This road is on the route I took to work for many, many years and every morning I turned the corner from Mathews to Folks road to breath-taking beauty. This morning was no different so I had to pull over.

It is an ordinary marsh, with marsh grass and other plants that like wet conditions covering all but where a small lake is. But there are always beautiful colors and movement and light at the marsh. And of course there is a lot of sky to see.

Thunder storms were predicted for early afternoon and I could see dark heavy clouds on the western horizon and directly above me there were hints of what was to come. I have lived here for all but two of my 76 years so I notice how clouds are different during different seasons. The clouds of fall are a combination of high, fluffy clouds of summer and and the heavy low dark clouds of winter. The dark heavy clouds to the west dropped hail on us as I was eating lunch when I returned home.

This square macro shows a hint of the color that will surround Lime Lake in the next few days or weeks. On this one relatively young maple tree there were red, yellow and green leaves. I kinda think this is a micro (or macro) of what we have here in my neighborhood during the first week of October.

The Excitement of Learning

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I’ve got that bit of nervousness that comes from taking in a lot of new, exciting information that I haven’t had much chance to practice or apply in my daily living. I think it is my old nemesis whispering in my ear – the one that believes I should be able to learn it well enough by reading to do it perfectly the first time. Time to change that message because I’m doing this for fun – and the pleasure is in the experimentation and the learning.

This new learning started with a book I ordered way back in March, Close Up Photography in Nature, by John and Barbara Gerlach. I had borrow some books from the library and decided that this one would be the one I would want to return to frequently in the future. It isn’t a thick book but I’ve been picking it up ever since and learning something new every time I do.

I love close up work but frequently (usually?) my images become close up when I crop them in post processing – probably something “real” photographers wouldn’t admit to unless their raw files were subpoenaed. I also had been thinking I would like a macro lens but really didn’t know what to buy and when I explored them on-line, they were pretty expensive. So I read my new book, and nodded my head a lot, and went in search of a highlighter, and went back again to reread some sections. Oh, the excitement of being able to do what I love with better results, maybe. And I went out in my garden to try some of the new skills they explain in their book. That was last summer.

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What I learned was that “close up photography” involves making images that fill the entire frame and there is a definite art and science to the process. I also learned what lenses produce the best results (those expensive ones) but they also suggested an alternative for those of us who don’t sell prints so can’t declare a lens as a business expense or take out a small business loan. They discussed a way to practice the science without spending a boatload of money. One suggestion was a magnification lens that screws onto the the front of a lens, like a filter. At less than $100 it was worth a try.

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I am enjoying learning as a long, slow process. When I returned to the Naples Botanical Garden for me weekly photo shoots, I found that I was doing many of the things that I learned from the Gerlachs and the one that I am enjoying the most is using manual focus more.

I probably won’t be doing much macro photography when I am in the Michigan cold for our holiday season but I have a new toy downloaded on my computer and waiting for play time – a new learning curve. I’ll share that fun in another post.

August is my Favorite Morning

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I’ve been missing morning this summer. Not all of them because once a week Julie and I leave kinda early for our outings; not all of them because I don’t sleep until noon. I’m a morning kind of person but my stiffening body and just-a-part-of-aging lower energy means that I want to start my day a little slower, a little gentler. Sitting with a cup of coffee on my porch swing or in my reading chair, eating a bowl of cereal with lots and lots of blueberries, smelling the fresh morning air floating on a slightly cool breeze kind of gentle start.

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The mornings I have been missing are when the sun is coming through the tree across the street and dancing around my flower garden. It is the August and September mornings that I have been missing. In May, June and July the sun comes up so early that by the time I get up and pour my coffee, the sun is too strong for garden photography. August and September are those glorious months where we help each other, the sun and I, to rise and revel in the lushness of my late summer garden.

 

I have been pining for that wonderful early morning sun that is so clear and gentle that it makes the dew covered flowers glow. August is such a wonderful month full of gentle morning sun, exuberantly blooming plants, and produce stands brimming with farm fresh produce. Time to take my shower and go for some peaches, sweet corn and tomatoes.

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