|Costa Rican Croc|
Last week I started the process of celebrating some of my favorite seasonal photo opportunities by discussing winter and spring. This week it is all about our long languid summers and the spectacular explosion which is a New England autumn.
Along with winter, summer is our other long season. Spring and fall are times of quick transitions that provide dynamic opportunities for photography. Perhaps surprisingly, and despite the pleasant weather, summer is often the most challenging season to find interesting subjects for photography. The leaves have settled into the deep monochromatic green that is optimal for efficient photosynthesis and the animals have settled into their warm weather stupor. The sun often rides high in the clear sky creating harsh contrasts, but there are special attractions to keep us going until autumn.
The warm greens of summer foliage can be lovely especially when trans-illuminated by the rays of the sun at dawn and near sunset and their hues vary depending on the color of the light that shines on the foliage.
The warm humid air encourages the development of dramatic cloud formations which can lead to impressive storms and can also contribute to the color and drama of our summer sunsets. Summer haze can also enance the beauty of the setting sun.
In the north, the growing season tends to be preciously short and as a result the growth must be exuberantly quick. We see this in our fields and pastures as well as in the greenery of the forests. Standing in a corn field you can almost hear the stalks reaching up to the light.
Covered Bridges and Farms
This is probably as good a place as any to mention two essential pieces of our photographic environment. In all seasons, farms and covered bridges are famously iconic parts of the New England experience, but they are especially noticeable in the productive time of our brief summer. I have my own favorite local farms that I visit on a regular basis. There always seems to be something interesting going on. Covered bridge are more static but changes in weather and light can reveal them in all their utilitarian grace.
Art in the Park
Finally there is the Art in the Park. At the end of every summer the Monadnock Area Artists Association manages to bring a remarkable assortment of artists together to fill Keene's Ashuelot River Park for a wonderful art fair. This two day gathering is the only art show in which I participate. Once a year I drag out my 10x10 tent, hang my pictures and pray that we won't be slammed by a torrential thunderstorm. I usually sell enough to make the show worth while, but I do it primarily to have a chance to visit with my friends from the community. It is a great way to finish the summer and prepare for the autumn.
Ok. Do I need to say that the New England autumn is special. On my recent tour of Costa Rica I showed some of my autumn pictures to our guide and driver. They had never seen a real fall, and they were stunned by the color. They couldn't believe that trees could actually do that. It was good to see the season through fresh eyes, it's just sad that it lasts for such short period of time.
|Jenne Farm, Reading Vermont|
Of course with all this beauty we have to expect that it will attract a crowd. We have come to expect visitors from all over the country and world. One morning I was enjoying the iconic autumn splendor of the Jenne Farm in Reading Vermont when a bus full of Japanese tourists pulled up and started competing for the best tripod locations. They were reasonably respectful folks and I felt a certain irrational that people would come all this way to see MY farm. Happily I have the place to myself for the rest of the year. I just wish that the legions of peepers would hang around a bit longer to help with the raking.
|John Kerry 2004|
There is much more to autumn than brightly colored leaves and one of my favorite parts is the harvest. I love traveling among the pastures and farm stands photographing the rich variety of produce. Although our famous Pumpkin orgy is no more there are still many harvest festivals celebrating the fruits of another bountiful growing season.
One of the benefits of shortening days of autumn is longer periods of warm, low light. Especially when the leaves are still on the trees the light provides a warm glow that magnifies the brilliance of the foliage.
For me autumn is always Calendar time. Every year I produce my New England Reflections Calendar to benefit the wonderful work of Cheshire Medical Center's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. If I do it right, I actually start working on the calendar in the spring, but it is in the fall that I spend much of my time getting the calendars out to all the regional stores that have agreed to sell them. It is a lot of work, but well worth the effort as I renew acquaintances with the many people who are enthusiastic about supporting our rehab program.
Have you bought your Calendar yet? There are a few left and although it is getting a bit late, but the pictures don't go bad and it is for a great cause.
Although the leaves display their brilliant colors for just a few days, autumn is a much longer season. As the leaves fall the quiet moody character of the forest is revealed. It is derisively call the "Stick Season", but to those with a patient eye, there are interesting patterns of structure and light to be found before all is covered by he inevitable blanket of
Well that is my year. Selecting the images for this exercise has brought me back to an appreciation of why I have such love for the beauty and the variety of challenges that make photography in New England such a unique experience. Now I can go back to processing my Costa Rica images without the sense of lost paradise.