It starts with a deepening of shadows as the daily path of the sun passes closer and closer to the horizon. Vivid fall shades of gold-yellow and crimson start to appear at the edges of the green late-summer leavers.
Geese and gulls pass overhead well into the evening hours, calling to each other in the settling darkness with a cold northern wind at their backs.
The garden slows, enormous summer leaves of the rhubarb parting further with each frost, revealing bowed scarlet stems as they settle toward the waiting earth. Bulbs are planted beneath a blanket of fallen twigs and foliage. Flowers go to seed and the hibernating bees choose their dens for the winter.
Light reaches into the heart of the house, the low-sitting sun filtered through the shifting curtain of tree branches and leaves that shade the windows. Forgotten textures are revealed and even as the days shorten, there are more moments of golden-hour light to enjoy.
Sunsets soften and linger in the treetops, where the last bright green leaves flutter in a cool breeze. The tree canopy transforms into an almost architectural experience. Trunks and branches are revealed through colourful patches of thinning leaves, like stained glass suspended within the cathedral framework of urban forest arching overhead
All of the photos in this post were taking in September and October of 2022 for a personal project. As I followed the beautiful light and details through the autumn season, themes of transition, loss, and regeneration emerged. Portions of the work I created during this time have become a study of a particular kind of moody fall aesthetic.
This is a season as much about colourful leaves as it is a time of deep preparations; migrations or shifts to dormancy are measures taken to survive the coming winter, while the fallen leaves are beginning the process of decaying into nutrients needed for new spring growth. Without these changes and periods of hibernation, the raucous energy of spring would not be possible. Just as necessary is the abundance of summer, providing the raw materials of fall when it arrives again.
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“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin
Fair warning, this is not a happy post, and beyond a shared mood, the text has very little to do with the image.
It has become increasingly difficult to focus on what is right in front of me. There is a deepening, bitter edge to each day, and I know the root of it is a pain which is being experienced at personal and collective levels everywhere. So many aspects of the social contract have been broken, or worse, are proving to have never existed at all. The events of January 6th were unsurprising but still a shock; after an hour or so of live coverage, I felt my mind retreat, curled into the fetal position where I sat, and fell asleep. I take pride in not looking away from even the most jarring images, but I’d hit my limit. On so many levels, it was a day of terrifying white nationalism and grotesque systemic racism on full display. And we can expect more of the same because the hatred espoused by racists is rooted in fear and pain, which they will continue to avoid addressing.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself marvelling at layer upon layer of heartbreak and frustration. Are we still in the midst of a pandemic, bracing for the consequences of holiday gatherings and travel? Did my neighbours have yet another string of visitors every day this week, despite lockdown rules? Have members of my local government been taking tropical vacations while telling the rest of us to stay home, in the midst of a particularly dreary Canadian winter? Has the weather been unusually warm and dry, both here in Manitoba and back in California, indicating yet another record year as climate change grinds away like a foregone conclusion?
I look for the good news. The unassuming heroes and helpers, the small signs of progress. I know that there are reasons for cautious optimism, and I am doing my best to cling to hope instead of hate. Part of that process is to occasionally let the weight of everything fall out of focus and acknowledge the pain. We’re allowed to feel hurt and angry right now, so as to better regroup, refocus and move forward, because we have a long, long way to go.
When I travel I am often closely observing the botanical elements of a place, as they often form an interesting and informative backdrop in the wider local scene. Floral photography fits in well with the idea of looking for local colour. From recent travels to California, these vivid yellow pincushion protea flowers stood in bright contrast to their dark green foliage. Spotted while on a waterfront walk in Monterey, with blustery spring showers and fast-moving clouds overhead, these fresh blooms were a welcome colourful reminder that spring is just around the corner.
Protea flowers symbolize hope and transformation, and these golden arching forms of the stamen catch the light beautifully on a dark, moody day. It seems that most of my flower photos lean toward textural compositions, full of deep contrast and vivid colour.
Prints available here, find my full portfolio of moody and magical floral photography here.
I didn’t set out to find such a powerful weather photography subject, it was just another blustery, spring day on the California coast. With scattered rain showers and blank overcast skies accompanying my drive south from Santa Cruz to Monterey. With glimpses of the ocean and soft, rolling hills opening to loamy and verdant valleys, the scenery along Highway 1 can be beautiful in any weather.
After turning inland through fields of strawberries and artichokes then skimming across the Elkhorn Slough with its swath of inter-tidal wetlands, the highway bends back to meet the ocean as Monterey appears ahead. Approaching the stretch of sand dunes that mark the beginning of expansive, wild beaches just South of the Salinas River, I felt the brute force of a powerful wind blowing in across the Pacific ocean. Then I noticed the clouds.
At first just a heavy smudge on the horizon, an undefined darker grey in a sky already laced with rain and mist. These clouds quickly became distinct above the white-capped Monterey Bay; fast-moving, dark and dramatic, their undersides carved into undulating ribbons of green and blue with a curtain of heavy rain following close behind. I had my camera with me that day, and immediately pulled off the highway to a small beach access and overlook.
The air felt charged with raw energy and a few other brave souls had stopped to take in the storm as it blew quickly onshore; I managed to capture only a handful of images before the heavy rains arrived.
I will never forget the exhilaration of watching the strange sky above, and the speed with which the entire system passed from sea to land was truly incredible. Glad to get whatever photos I could of this storm, I take them as proof that bad weather makes for excellent landscape photography, and the best camera is the one you have with you (though it doesn’t hurt to carry some of your better gear around from time to time). This surreal cloudscape scene is included in my collection of sky and cloud photo prints, featuring a variety of dramatic clouds and abstract skies.
Years ago the tonal possibilities of black and white film taught me to watch for interesting abstractions of light and texture. As my style and technique has evolved, a strong love of abstract art photography has remained a creative constant in my personal work.
While on a walk through the coastal forest of Mendocino County in California, I came upon a quietly running clear stream. Sunlight filtered through the trees above, illuminating the rippling water as it passed over smooth, multicoloured stones. Ribbons of light shimmered across the shadowy stream-bed. I only shot two frames of this spot, close and abstracted in black and white to emphasize the tone and texture of the contrasting liquid and hard rocky surfaces. A fluid moment in time brought to life by the motion of water and light.
Find my currently available black and white abstract art photo prints here; please inquire for custom sizes and styles.