Autumn Stand in Black and White


Week 22/26: Landscape

When I was about 10 or 11 we had a cheap little film camera. I don't remember being given it, so it probably was shared by the family. I have early pictures I took with that camera, none of them very earth shattering, mostly pictures of family members. However my earliest memories of my photography was when I was standing with my camera in front of a wonderful landscape. I remember more than once thinking how beautiful the scene was and taking two or three photos. Weeks (months?) later when the film went in to be developed, the black and white pictures came back. I remember looking at them and wondering why I had taken them. Somehow that breathtaking landscape of rolling tree covered hills had turned into a dull scene, totally lacking interest.

No one ever explained to me how to choose and frame a subject (landscape or otherwise) that would look good in black and white. No one told me that simple clean lines look great A landscape of stark tree trunks and branches against snow or fog would look wonderful in black and white, no colour needed at all (no fussy leaf masses) as do dramatic skies behind a subject, that no matter how striking the colour of the leaves you see before you, that colour will have little impact in the printed image. No one told me any of those things and we certainly couldn't have afforded colour film at that time. Neither did I have access to a darkroom, to the tools that would have allowed for creativity, such as dodging and burning, to bring out dramatic skies and highlight subjects. So every time the prints came back, I was bitterly disappointed.

This challenge then immediately brought back those memories, but spurred me on to try to find a subject where colour was secondary to the composition. At this time of year, with brilliant foliage everywhere and as I could't get to a seashore (my first choice) I found this proud stand of trees in the field behind our house, in front of gathering evening clouds. In the foreground is a potential monarch butterfly nursery* for next year, seed heads of the common milkweed plants.

*As an aside, the invasive common milkweed is not the best plant for the butterflies, they much prefer the non invasive marsh milkweed, which I am planting next year.

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#BWProject26 | Curated by +Tisha Montgomery +Brandon Luk +Lauri Novak +Al Chris


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23 Responses

  1. +Debbie Drummond​ thanks a lot, Debbie.
    The field is bordered by a 'nature walk' (though the fox's den along the route and near our house was predictably abandoned after the trail was cleared and the only wildlife to be seen now are a few pheasants). The only time we see kids on it is when the school sends them on a run along it. Such a pity that kids don't seem to play in these environments nowadays. in my case the field I played in as a child bordered the railway track in the city (Montreal) , but I was there almost every day in the summer.

  2. Thanks a lot Linda. I was glad that the sky gave some added dimension to the scene. It's been a bit dull around here lately. +Linda Jess

    Thanks very much +Lauri Novak – I felt they also added a perspective that gave it more depth.

    Thank you so much +Ann Kennedy

    +Richard Ball – I can't tell you how much pleasure it gives me to see your comments back in my stream. Thank you my friend.

    Thanks a lot +Giselle Savoie

    Thank you Sumit. +Sumit Sen

    I had a feeling that those words would strike a chord (or a nerve) with some who read the text. +Pat Kight – it's true that I have fewer of those moments now. Though they do happen. More likely I now think 'well that didn't work the way I hoped it might". 😀 Thanks very much, Pat.

    Thank you, +Shelly Gunderson

    +Rita Gijbels thanks a lot for the comment, Rita.

    Thank you so much +Al Chris

    +Dylan Johnson – it is! And often it does teach us something that we retain for the next times. But you know it's all about experimenting, too! Thanks Dylan.

  3. Love your “Autumn Stand” Ellie. We all have our “autumn stands” in our lives and in ourselves I think. Those overlooked parts of our inner and outer worlds that carry such beauty, if we only stopped to look. Thanks for showing your beauty, my friend. Inside and out.

  4. Oh, those "why did I take this picture anyway?" moments! It took me sooo long to learn to see what makes a good landscape shot, and even longer to be able to successfully – and consistently – execute them! I love this one…

  5. +Ellie Kennard I probably will share pictures in a day or two when it's definitely past its peak. Since it's on my mind, I just ran out to look, and I was right — the thing is incredible right now. It was still green last Saturday. By day before yesterday it was bright organgish yellow, and yesterday more orange, but not overtly red. We sit and look at it from the dinner table. Last night a mild breeze came along and about a thousand leaves fell before our eyes. I'm hoping to see some more intense reds before it's over.

    I've taken pictures both with my phone (Samsung Note 3) and my good dedicated camera (Sony RX100) and will put them all together to get a sequence. If I can find the time before I get bored with the idea, as I'm buried in work right now.

  6. Yeah, I see your point in this. The rising and falling shape of the trees in the center, the greatly contrasting weeds in the foreground, "painted" across the cloud background. Lovely.

    There is so much beauty all around it, if we only just stop to look. And it's not all about striking colors. My maple on the side of our house hit peak yesterday … or maybe it will today, but the leaves suddenly started to fall in abundance late yesterday afternoon, and I can swear that I could see the difference in intensity of color between morning and afternoon. (I haven't looked yet this morning. I photograph it every year because it's really quite a cool tree.)

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