My right brain has been subconsciously exerting some influence on my colour choices lately, and I suddenly find my life very full of oranges and reds and greens.
Another installment from my third week of lists, a clinging-to-the-trees, back-to-school-special, dreading-impending-winter edition all about autumn colours, falling leaves, and capturing the spectacular scenery of this short-lived season in photos: it is always inspiring to me. I get out of the house and clamber around the outdoors with my camera in hand and there is always something amazing to photograph. I’m hardly an expert, but my hands on experience with a handful of very short autumns has given me some insight into:
6 Tactics for Amazing Autumn Photos
The once-long-ago boy scout in me never really forgot this bit of wisdom and I tend to apply it to many aspects of life, including photography. In our neck of the woods, autumn is usually a flash season: it appears near the end of September when we’re all least expecting it to arrive and sometime in mid-October we all wake up to freshly fallen blanket of snow and… bam… autumn is gone again for another year. Photographing autumn in Edmonton is all about single (or if you’re really lucky perhaps, just maybe double) chances. You’ll get one nice weekend to get out amongst the changing foliage, one or two awesome sunsets, a hour or two of whisping fog through the river valley. You’ve got to be ready to seize those moments… or wait until next year.
Autumn is all about the colour, but chances are after a summer of rich greens and photographing flowers and brightly dressed folks wandering around in the shorts, paying attention to skin-tones and trying not to over-saturate your pics, your camera’s colour setting have been stepped back a notch from the ideal autumn settings. Grab your manual and figure out how to crank your colour saturation up… but just a little bit. Of course this is as much personal preference as it is style, and you’ll need to take a few test shots to gauge the ideal settings for your own scenes and preferences, but I personally think that pulling out all those rich yellows, oranges, and browns from the scene make for some amazing pics.
And those autumn colours are really all about one thing: the slow natural decay of summer into winter by the foliage that surrounds us. Anywhere you go, most of what was only a few weeks ago brilliant shades of greens is now withering into a forest of autumn colour. Embrace the foliage. Learn to love the foliage. It is what will define your imagery as autumn imagery, whether as the focus of your photo or as the subtle backdrop to other subjects. People, architecture, objects or simply a beautiful shot of the sky: a few changing leaves in the corner and automatically you’ve encapsulated a time-frame into your photo… autumn.
If you live in one of those more equatorial parts of the planet, this point might not make much sense to you: I’ve been to the Caribbean and Hawaiian Islands and I’ve not only fallen in love your climate, but as a photographer I envied your routine and predictable sunsets. In Edmonton we have sunsets that vary from mid-afternoon in the deepest parts of winter to nigh on midnight in the lazy days of summer. And every sunset is different, unique, and impossible to predict. But in autumn, the sun usually sets around the dinner hour and thanks to whatever confluence of astrophysics, atmospheric moisture, and harvest dust in the air, the sunsets in autumn are some of the most amazingly colourful I’ve ever witnessed. Personally, I enjoy silhouetting people and plants against their blanket of colours in those handful of moments before they fade into dusk, and this is as much an act of patience and persistence as it is any sort of skill. Whatever your preference, don’t miss your chance to snap a few of these scenes come autumn.
Brown. It often seems like such a mundane colour and traditionally gets a bad reputation because of that. And we, as humans, are unlikely to embrace the colour brown for fashion or art or love for that reason. To many it seems more like a lack of colour. A failure of colour. It is the colour of dead. It is the colour of dirt. It is the colour of sh… well, you know where I’m going with this, right? If you’ve ever stopped to think about it though, you’ll note that brown is not exactly a colour that you can find in the standard spectrum. Thing is, people are actually very particular about browns. Don’t believe me: try doing graphic design and getting just the right shade of brown for something. It’s tough. See, I would argue that in the same way there is a kind of uncanny valley effect for animation and robotics, there is an uncanny valley effect for the colour brown in our brains. Why? Because brown isn’t a single colour: it is a palette of colours mushed together and from any particular shade of brown can be pulled a list of other colours. A flower can be any old shade of red or orange, but the browns are so particular and so connected to specific things in our minds that to get them wrong is to break the symbol of realism it represents. And autumn… it is flush with browns. Explore. Embrace. And keep away from that boring green you’ve been snapping all summer.
Finally, and an absolute classic: find someone to throw some leaves into the air. Action autumn photography encapsulated in a single snapshot, and definitely a photo to add to your collection and offer you a million and one opportunities to flex your creative muscle and re-define such a moment with your own personal style. Go on: grab some and throw them up. Just watch out for bugs.
The author enjoys autumn walkabouts almost as much as he enjoys photographing them. In fact, now that he’s written that he thinks he might just grab his camera and the dog and go for a walkabout now instead of finishing wri
Thanks to some cooler temperatures — as well as a few blocks of free time — I finally got a bit of work done on the baby room mural. The caveat to the photo below is simply this: It’s very much a work in progress. When it is done it should look awesome. Right now it looks as expected, which is to say: blotchy, blocky, and like it needs some touch ups. It does. This is not much more than some initial coats and blocking with colours.
I’ve got all the colours I need now — and I’m pretty sure we bought enough paint to get it done — so it’s just a matter of putting in the time. More updates as the month progresses.
While in Red Deer this weekend we picked up some great paint in our selected colours, as per the plan for the nursery. That the priming was already done helped, and we quickly tacked up a tape-line for the divider. I set to work last night, and managed to get both coats in both colours on the walls:
As you may be able to see — especially if you look at the higher resolution pictures — that is only a rough tape-line separating the colours. Our plan is to ultimately get a nice 1&1/2 inch chair rail tacked up at that point. But, of course, that means ACTUALLY going out and BUYING a chair rail, painting it, and then hanging it.
For the record, this project is on hold for a couple weeks. The mural (as promised) is in the planning stages: I’m going to do some practice with an airbrush I picked up this past weekend (first seeing if I can get the air compressor hose up through the window!) and then see if I can locate some workable colours. Time, time time! If I only had more time!
As for the paint-job. We’re both glad to have that mess finished (this far at least). The room is beautiful and the photo does not do it justice. You really need to see it in the sunlight, glowing.
Ryan and I pulled up our boot-straps and stood at the back of Rexall Place last night with standing-room tix to the Oilers versus Canucks match up, our little white-painted floor-squares not nearly as good as seats, but definitely much better than any television screen. What surprised me was the disproportionately large number of Vancouver fans peppering the arena. No, not that I’m surprised that folks (local or visiting) would cheer for the Canucks. Heck, I remember sitting near the back of GM Place a couple years ago waving a (free as in beer) white towel as the Nucks were crushed to the Flames steamrolling parade to just-missing the last pre-strike cup. I suppose I was surprised that there were either (a) so many local fans or (b) enough folks willing to troop to Edmonton for a regular season game. Either way, we rightly chose the locals, I only slightly torn at my former allegiance to my temporarily adoptive city, and felt only a few gentle twangs of pity at the numerically-only outnumbered Vancouverites who displayed their colours with vicious pride and paid the price in both good-humored verbal abuse and ultimate game-play humiliation. Next time, though, we’re getting real seats. I’m too old to stand for three and a half hours.
I have no words today. Just slips of lines and shapes of colours. We have clutter on the desk. We have pixels of photonic hallucination.
He was sitting on my desk, charging. Quietly. Well behaved. Humble. If I were the future, would he still have the space to record my tangled thoughts? If I were the future, would it still feel dark and quiet in the ebbs of his fragmented motions.
There is something about being lost here. There is something dark and confusing. There is music etched in the soul of the future. I’m slowing. I’ve thought about digging my feet into the loose, sandy soil of the cosmos and grinding everything to a temporary pause.
I’ve heard it all. I’ve thought I could sense it. I thought if I just grabbed a little bit deeper, digging my fingernails into the surface there would be something to slow me down. But the seat cushions are moving just as fast as the passenger. The road, rough and dangerous, is far on the other side of that glass window, speeding on behind.
We spent a whirlwind Saturday morning at the light store. The light store was, oddly enough, intense. And I simply have no other way to describe it.
Imagine a store that opens at 9AM, and us with our silly little 9AM appointment expecting to be the lone car sitting in the lot waiting like eager little kids on Halloween to pounce when the neon light burns up and someone appears to unlock the glass doors. We were not alone. In fact, despite hopping from the car seconds after the OPEN sign lit, we were among the second dozen people to clamber into the shop. And we’re not talking IKEA here; this is a little corner light shop. Selling lamps. Bulbs. Chandeliers.
Not exactly what I would expect on an early Saturday morning.
To top off the fun of pushing our way to the counter to check in for our appointmnet, it was quickly discovered that our “consultant” had just found out that her Grandmother had passed away. I have all the sympathy in the world. It’s just an odd thing to deal with as one excitedly contemplates the joys of halogen lighting.
This, officially, means we’re roughly half done slecting colours and flooring, and wood grains to match our bizaare personalities. I don’t have much in the way of images from these adventures, so what I do have I’ll share one fragment at a time. Cope.
Somewhere along the line we needed to contemplate colours. The weird thing about the whole process is that it involves these microscopic color swatches and a whole lot of imagination. Imagine this: an entire house. Now picture it covered in the following two colours:
Oddly enough, if you type either of those two colour words into Google Image Search, you’ll get a selection of images that have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the swatches represented above.
Back on topic, we were handed a loaf of vinyl siding swatches and an additional loaf of little tin cards — and told that some combination of those loafs would represent the mirage we would arrive home to everyday for the next decade or so.
Imagination. How powerful is your imagination?
We have marginally agreed that we both like this color combination. It’s a start. It’s a beginning. It’s something to build off, from, and into the wild blue yonder. For now. But it still boggles me that these quasi-important perceptions of the moment will define something so permanent.
The city, in all it’s long-weekend splendour, was insuffient to hold us inside. Karin had been planning the adventure for a week, calling the kiosk inside the park to confirm trails and availablity, plotting routes from poory scanned, pixelated maps she had downloaded from the net, and generally envisioning a grand adventure some forty-five kilometers east of the city’s edge.
I was game, though relatively indifferent.
We slept in. Showered, Dressed, ensuring to dig our most outdoor-ish gear from the piles of workwear in our closet. I found my Tilly. Karin donned her red cap. And on the way out of town we grabbed some healthy snacks at Save-On and gassed Bel for her mini-adventure. The sun flirted with us from behind a sky of broken clouds, and just out of reach that elusive pattern of something grander lurked with an air of impatience among the soles of our hikers. Even the bison wandering patiently along the roadside seemed blissfully unaware of the epics that loomed.
We paid, we parked, we gently coated our arms with a conservative burst of deet-laced aerosol. It seemed fashionable, the whisping bursts of clouds hiding behind the tree-line, to leave our long pants wrapped securely around our legs. The cold seemed our biggest enemy, and even that an idle threat on the wind.
Four kilometers we walked. The road was not exactly the trail we had envisioned, twin tire-scars stretching around meandering corners. But it was peaceful, wildflowers dressing the tall grasses that saluted us as we wandered past. The flora stood still while I photographed it, the hymenoptera were busy, but patient as the shutter clicked, and a lone lepidoptera unfurled its wings and sat long enough to endure a well focused pixel-map.
Everything seemed peachy.
We stopped at the rest, snacking on fresh nectarines, a modified mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate. Karin napped on a bench, while I photographed the local wilderness. A solid thirty minutes passed, and as rushed as we seemed to be, it fit that the time had come to complete the remaining eight kilometers of the hike.
Trails have a way of being either less or more than expected. When we hike in the wilds of British Columbia we found ourselves either scaling heights where it seemed no one had ever gone before, or counting steps on a wooden staircase up the side of a busy mountain. There was rarely any middle-ground.
When we stepped onto this trail, the first thing that struck my consciousness is that it more resembled a lawnmower’s path through the scrub, than any path I had recently encountered. The tall grasses crept into vegetative waves over and around a meandering course. Mushrooms of all shapes, colours, and sizes dotted the greenery. Hundreds of bewildered amphibians leaped impatiently underfoot. And, in an astounding display of insect fecundity, the mosquitos swarmed like an evil cloud of doom, filling the air with the threat of annoyance, itching, and looming questions about tropical diseases which have found their way across the Prairie landscape in their six-legged hosts.
Our patient and leisurely walk had turned into an eight kilometer sprint back to the car, pausing only briefly (on numerous occasions) to apply yet another generous dose of bug repellant to our exposed skin. We dashed over lolling hills, barely glancing over our shoulders at the magnificent vistas that spread out before us. Our only thoughts were wrapped in the awareness that with a concerted effort, the insects (outnumbering us by a factor of possibly millions) could have easily carried us off to a more suitable feeding location. As it was, sprinting through the deep grass that weaved over our path, chaos among the swarm was our only saviour.
Sweat beading our brows, perspiration wringing from our grubbed clothing, we arrived in record time at the car, and with barely a hesitation retreated back into the city. It seems there are still some places in this world where we humans are more welcome than we’d like to be.
Yes, I know. Again with the distinct lack of posting here. It’s called having something that vaguely resembles a life, and using it when I am able.
Some interesting things happened. I am sure interesting things always DO tend to happen to lots of other people as well, but these were my interesting things, and this is my webspace, so I’m going to write about my own set on interesting things and if you want your own list get off your lazy butt and do something about it. Highlighting these — ie, my set of interesting things (or, | interesting things | = mine) are:
( 1 ) I learned the fine art of sushi rolling from my supervisor’s husband, who is a clone of David Suzuki. I knew the bit about David Suzuki before this weekend, but I hadn’t before this point found cause to insert it into some random sentence.
( 2 ) I experienced first hand the joys of a BC AirCare inspection, as we rolled Karin’s car through the rigors. She passed with flying colours, but it was still a pain and a waste of $48.
( 3 ) I broke out the old cd-game collection, and cracked open my disc of monkeys on Saturday evening. Karin was sick and didn’t feel like going anywhere, so I assumed the guise of Guybrush Threepwood and played the first two chapters of The Curse of Monkey Island. I’d say it was an inspiring dollop of well.spent time, but I’d be lying.
( 4 ) I snowshoed to the summit of Hollyburn mountain with a contingent of 9 year olds. I also, after spending some solid snowball.fight.time atop the peak, learned the fine art of sliding down a snow capped mountain on one’s backside. This morning I am in some sort of vague pain, as in I know I’m in pain but I haven’t got around to localizing it to one specific area of my bruised body. Right now everything sort of hurts.
( 5 ) As my mortal enemy, Jess, was in the city for the weekend, we plotted evil in a seedy scumbar of a dimly lit pub on the west side, then took in an evil disco pirate ballet at a nearby nightspot with our minions in tow.