The annual post-summer mess removal arrived as usual this past weekend. Leaves to rake, trees to prune, and a garden to purge cost me the bulk of my Sunday, a day that started out cool and frosty and turned sunny and bright.
I think I would have been less grumpy about the whole ordeal had we actually felt the benefits of summer this year. The grass, which is green in these photos, has been a mess most of the season due largely to a lack of rain for the first two months … and then a glut at the end. The garden, at least what wasn’t eaten by the various local critters seeking nourishment from my vegetables, produced barely a farmer’s-market-visit worth of produce, thanks to the same drought. And the trees, which did produce more apples than we could have ever imagined possible from those two little shrubs, required so much propping up from the weight of the fruit, I had to devise a strategic pruning plan to ensure their long-term survival.
Plus, we gotta stop going away in the prime of summer. August always turns out pretty nice, but for two summers now we’ve spent it on vacation and out of town.
Alas, for all my complaints, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…
After running through the trails this weekend, I’ll take the awesome splash of autumn hues over anything any other season can throw at us.
Probably that pic of Claire befriending a ladybug she found while helping with the autumn yard work.
In 8 Pics: A blog-type series dedicated to narrating the odd collections of photos I gather as I roll through the adventures of my life. Click to enlarge. Or visit the full gallery and respective albums for more.
Autumn is short here. Too short. Before you know it that brief period has passed, gone, vanished, between when it’s still warm summer days and green covering the trees and when its nearly winter and those same trees are bare and brown.
The day needs to be just right: blue skies and calm, with lots of light.
You need to have a day off, because its that time of year when you drive to work in the darkness of the early morning and return from work with the sun much too low in the sky for crisp autumn photography bursting with colour.
I made it out three times… technically speaking.
Second, I wandered out on my most recent off-day Friday and took the dog down to Terwillegar Park, whee she may not have been a willing photography subject, but the leaves and the light were more than cooperative with my Lensbaby fisheye holding court.
And third, as mentioned in a previous post, I took a wending tour on foot, running, with my GoPro in hand with the intention of nabbing some video footage but perfectly aware that the camera would be snapping stills at the same time.
Sometimes those are purely accidental. But not this time. They were more purposeful.
Maybe it’s precisely because the season is so short, the opportunities so few.
Spring, after all, is usually gritty around here. Dirty. Wet. Puddles everywhere. Garbage and the remnants of winter clinging to anything and everything. Spring photography is challenging for that reason, I suppose, but I’ve never done great work in Spring.
Winter is usually fun and bright, but given that we have so many months of it, and so many occasions to play in the snow with a camera, the challenges presented by the cold and over-lit exposure concerns are under control. Winter can be pretty and abstract, but the people in winter photos, obviously, are often little more than bundles of warm clothes with legs.
Summer is boring. I mean I enjoy summer. It’s green. Diverse. Warm. But at the end of the day it’s just almost too easy. The weather and the light are too cooperative. From a purely photographic-perspective, to me, it is the least challenging of seasons.
Autumn is short and unexpected. You need to be ready to jump at autumn, to catch it in those handful of sly, fleeting moments. If you don’t, you miss it.
Autumn might be rolling tapestries of reds and oranges and yellows and browns, mottled against the fall sky. Or autumn might be the aged nearly-dead chaos of a decaying leaf in the last hours before it tumbles to the ground to disappear as mulch under the soon-to-arrive winter snow.
Autumn around here is rare. Special. And that might be reason enough right there.
I took my camera out running on Saturday morning.
For about a week every year, usually around early October, but depending on the weather and flux of the seasons, the leaves turn. I know this is not usual. I happens all over the world: but we live in a city that takes pride in nestling itself in a mostly-preserved natural river valley, a ribbon of summer green that stretches dozens of kilometers from one end to the other, and a ribbon that turns a patchwork of gorgeous reds and golds as the long winter sweeps in around us.
I took my GoPro into the trails, dipping out of suburbia and into the river valley a few klicks from my house, a round trip of nearly ten kilometers all told, but a run weaving through the vibrant fall splendour along a quiet asphalt trail and across the river.
Filming yourself while you run is odd: it’s attention grabbing (in the moment and afterwards) and mildly narcissistic. Ok, not exactly “mildly” but whatever. It is a tricky combination of rapidly identifying a great shot, propping up a wobbly camera on a tiny tripod, with no viewfinder to guide you, then hitting record. You run back a few dozen steps, you dodge into the frame, repeat for luck, then swing back around grabbing the camera from it’s perch as you continue to the next location.
The result is a bunch of blind clips yourself: in their entirety, they look –frankly — ridiculous, an unfiltered collection of stuttering camera dodging, each with a few seconds in the middle, a gem of clear and steady footage. Later, back home, you trim those pieces, digitally splice them together, feed in an epic soundtrack, and the whole thing renders out to four minutes of clever (and yes, narcissistic) video.
The result is that you run up and down the same hill four times to get a good shot and realize that to remove your hat — which you wore to ward off the cold forty minutes ago — would be a great idea, particularly since you’re dripping with sweat, except that you’d mess up the continuity of the footage.
The result is also that despite the apparent loneliness of that footage, dozens of people watch you, stare, comment, ask you awkward questions, comment more, double-take as they speed by on their bikes, or simply laugh.
All that said, it’s my second such video. I knew what I was doing. And in a few years — or maybe just in the deep cold of this coming winter — as goofy as those videos look now I’ll be able to load them up on my TV and watch: the autumn colours, my own crazy-silliness, and, of course, the fun of the run.
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth… or in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
Family Hikes & Barbed Wire
Saturday was lovely. Looooovely. So, lovely that we decided to pack up the critters and venture into “nature” — the little crick that divides that divides our corner of the city from the rest of town — aptly called “nature” by Claire as if it were the only piece of nature in existence. But it’s still a lovely place for a hike… except Claire tripped and bruised her knee on an exposed bit of tree root and I snagged my new blue jeans on a bit of barbed wire while exploring in the trees.
Long Weekend Runs
…roast bird and mashed spuds…
Regular attendance at any long-weekend drop in run is usually on the low side. Couple that with the fact that most of the regulars were off in the Okanagan running a half marathon — without me, sigh — meant that we had a low key turnout of just those few diehard runners who felt compelled to get a few pitiful klicks in before gorging themselves on roast bird and mashed spuds. We did a short seven and as a result it turned into one of our briefest outings since last winter… which made a fleeting and sleeting appearance earlier in the week, for the record.
The Annual Turkey Overload
The in-laws hosted the annual cooking of the bird and we gathered in Red Deer for foods and fun, including various heaps of roasted vegetables, dressing, breads, salads, and libations galore. The whipped cream on our pumpkin pie was a bit of a bust, but all-in-all not much complaining could fairly be dished out with the copious food.
Of course there was the perfect moment, photographically-speaking, that played out mid-afternoon. The day was just warm enough to be outside with a light jacket, and the sun was lighting a mostly-clear sky. I peaked out the window and noted the kids heaping up leaves from under the giant poplar in the park across the street. A little voice in the back of my was instantly reminding me of the points on photography I’d made just a day previous in my post on Autumn photography. I grabbed the camera and was outside in a flash, on the ground in and amongst the fray snapping and posing.
Eggs Benny & Too Much Food
After all the wine, the six-thirty wake up call came a little early. But the smoked salmon eggs benny out at Cora with the family and my mom was worth it. Oh, the food. Didn’t I mention something about that at some point? And then? Coffees, lingering, and a long drive back home. Grrr… traffic. And grrr… too short long weekends.
It’s been nearly a full month since I gave a proper accounting of the photo per day project, so I figured I probably should.
October started in shades of orange as I spun out the first (of probably many) official twist on the project, proffering the idea of a themed week of photos. Mid-week, and even late into the enterprise, I was feeling somewhat adrift, snapping a whole lot of images of “dead leaves” to fulfill the vague (but oddly specific) concept of “Autumn Colours.” As a result, I’d tapped out on rotting foliage and sought a few other random theme-relevant images, capturing not only an awesome rain bespeckled bit of colour from the backyard, but what turned out to be one of my favorite shots of the month (so far) a chanced silhouette of the critters set across an autumn-flavoured sunset. I blogged about the latter a little bit (here and there) and have been showing off the pic to family and co-workers for the last few days. A couple evenings later I went out to try and replicate it, but so far that luck has been reserved for some random sketches I’ve created on the iPad, and no such luck with the camera (again, anyhow.)
Later that weekend (last weekend, in fact) saw us taking in the regular round of Thanksgiving festivities, venturing down South to Red Deer where we were greeted with an enormous quantity of food, and — as usual — a number of awesome photo ops with the critters and family-general. I had my work cut out for me upon our return to the city, rummaging through the three-hundred odd photos I snapped, particularly considering my mother insisted on a somewhat more formal session between her grand-daughters to fill a photo frame who’s current image is getting only a little dated. I ultimately settled on the improptu posed photo of gramps and his grand-daughters playing with the old Viewmasters (dug out by you-can-guess-who) if only because it captured a little more of the day’s fun and fancy, and left out the bits where folks were stuffing their faces with pumpkin pies and such.
Fast-forward to this evening, and a bus-ride-commute home following a busy day of staring blankly at my dual-monitored computer, one screen filled with the standard Visio-clutter one might normally associate with a website architecture schematic while the other was (unusually) propped open with a permanent view of iTunes the ongoing, afternoon-long status of installing the iOS 5 firmware update for my company-issued iPhone. The new operating system released this morning, and I was eager to get a copy running on my mobile, despite the fact that the servers were clogged and the authentication timed out a few times before I was ultimately successful. One might be wondering what this has to do with the photo of a City bus were one not also aware that the photo in question was snapped with my newly refreshed iPhone, and was subsequently ported, routed, and delivered to it’s final resting place in my gallery via the fancy new iCloud service built into said phone upgrade. So, it’s not so much the photo that is impressive (despite it’s reflective and every-day-ness quality) but rather the path through server-land it has travelled, that caught my interest in posting it today.
Alas, not even a month and a half in, yet the project continues…