Over the last couple of weeks I have been consumed with the usual holiday rush of photography related chores, with very little having to do with actual shooting. Despite the disappointing and spotty foliage this year I still have a significant back-log of autumn images that are begging to be processed. I am working in the studio to get seasonally appropriate pictures out to my galleries in Peterborough, Keene and Brattleboro as well as responding to special orders that MUST be done before Christmas. Of course I am also slogging through prime calendar season, keeping the stores stocked and annoying everyone in town about buying their New England Reflections Calendar; “Don’t you care about your neighbors who struggle with chronic lung disease?”. Thank goodness that nature has provided us with November, perhaps the worst time of the year to find beauty in rural New England. With the leaves gone and winter snow still generally coming only in fleeting doses, it seems that there are few things worth venturing out into the cold. I know there will be those who revel in the challenge, but seriously wouldn’t you rather be shooting almost any other time of year? It seems an act of providence that, during this time of year, when I have so much to do inside, outside "stick season" is so uninteresting.
Despite the congestion in my November to-do list, and the generally dismal prospects I could never totally abstain from taking pictures. So in an effort to get myself uprooted from my desk, i decided to take a fresh look at what might be out there worth the pixels? I have some ideas, but I thought it would be interesting to go back in my archives to search Novembers past for leads. The exercise identified a few general themes for stick season photography and has chased me out of the house looking for fresh opportunities.
|Always good to have|
someone else in deer colors
First it should be said that, as drab as it can be, late autumn is a perfect time for hiking. The bugs are gone, the air is crisp and with the leaves off the trees you can see farther through the forest. As is true of winter hiking, vistas open up that you would never find when encased in exuberant summer and fall foliage. We on the Chesterfield Conservation Commission often spend these weeks scouting new trails and looking for spots that with a little effort could be transformed into nice views.
|Abigail on the Elephant Tree|
Putney Mt. Vermont
Looking through my pictures from the the last several years, the most obvious aspect of stick season photography is that it is a time of pattern and not of color. The stark skeletal display of bare trees contrasts with monotonously golden brown of pasture grass or the frequent mists of late autumn mornings.
Leaves don't loose all of their attraction when they hit the ground, but actually evolve through an interesting succession of patterns and colors. Freshly fallen leaves provide a bright decoration whether as a golden forest carpet or by complementing streams, stone walls and farm implements. Sadly the fallen leaves quickly loose their brilliance, but on their way into the soil there are opportunities to find interesting patterns in collections of frosted or frozen foliage.
Of course not all leave are so faint of heart. Oak leaves tend to cling to their branches as winter approaches providing interesting studies in less gaudy tones. Beach trees are perhaps the most persistent providing an unexpected splash of color enlivening many scenes throughout the winter.
Finally there is the light this time of year. We are fast approaching the shortest days of the year and with the sun persistently low in the sky the "Golden Hours" tend to be extended. There is much less harsh overhead light, and the emotional ravages of seasonal affective disorder, are softened by the fact that I can sleep later before crawling out of bed for the sunrises.
Well, I feel better from this exercise. I am sure there are many more great photographic opportunities during stick season, but I have to say that, as the weather grows colder, the wood stove feels awfully nice and I have work to do before the snow saves us.