After the leaves have fallen

By Monday, November 25, 2013grafphoto
leaf with frost photo

Frosty leaf trapped in tangles, Highland Recreation Area, Highland, Michigan

I think it is pretty safe to declare at this moment that fall color is officially over.   Temperatures in Michigan have been below freezing for a few days now, and it is a good time to turn on a little old blues music, and catch up on some processing and organization tasks.   It is the season of brown settling in, and when my photo activity tends to drop a bit while waiting for the ice to settle on the shores and in the ponds.

Something I did earlier this year was make a post about some goals I had for this year.   I am not normally someone who writes down new year resolutions or many goals of any kind, so I went a bit outside my comfort zone there.   I guess I just never want to set myself up for disappointment if I am not able to accomplish one of them, let alone make it known to others! 🙂

I went back and looked at that today, knowing the photographs may be far and few between through the end of this year.   So here is my assessment so far of what I put in that post:

Long Exposures:  I did go further in my learning with long exposures (beyond that 30 second in-camera meter capability) – and let me tell ya – long exposures are — looooong! It is quite an adjustment go from waiting 15-30 seconds per frame to 2-4 minutes.  In between clicks you find yourself going through a mental checklist of all the things you hope you didn’t screw up in this frame so you wouldn’t have to wait again.  Then you start counting grains of sand, thinking that cloud looks like a duck… It is a lesson in patience no doubt.   I still have a lot to learn on what works well and what doesn’t – but I am happy with what I have done so far.

Wide world at f1.4:  Another disappointing year in trying to make this work.  I didn’t really try as hard as I could have – something always seem to come up in its place, something I knew would just work better with more depth of field.   I will put this on the shelf again perhaps until spring wildflower season.

Stonescapes and Abstract Expressionism:  While I didn’t make as much progress on this as I had planned for, I still see these coming weeks as a great opportunity to fill in this gap.   It is hard to justify staying indoors photographing rocks when there are fading things happening outside.   So I hope to intersperse this season of brown with exploring color indoors very soon!

Panoramic Macros:   Well, ha – I didn’t do any!   Probably more a function of not wanting to always take my tilt-shift lenses with me when my backpack is already stuffed.   There is still ice to be found!

Urbex: While I didn’t do as many urbex trips as I did in 2012, I still managed to get out and explore some.   In particular I enjoyed the trip along the Detroit River which gives a very different perspective in an automotive / road intensive area.   It still remains a bit of a side project for me, and I need to get my head around the images I have and how to put them together.

Turbulent Seas:  I suppose this is another one of those projects that will evolve over a period of years, not just months.   This is the time of year when the Great Lakes get particularly turbulent, but heck – it is also pretty damn cold now!   And I see this project perhaps in direct conflict with my wanting to do more long exposures.  Seas don’t look so turbulent anymore when blurred away.  🙂  Another one to put on the shelf.

Well, if I get my butt in gear and catch up in the rock quarry, I can have 2 of these 6 that I made some decent progress on.   And here’s the thing – I don’t feel particularly bad that I only did 1 or 2 of this group.   They all still remain in my head that will come out at some point or another – whether it is in a year, or a lifetime.   I suppose the bigger fear is that I just accumulate so many different projects or goals, that it becomes hard to focus on any one of them.




Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Oh, and I meant to wish you happy belated Thanksgiving, too…

    • Mark says:

      Well David – it was too much pressure for me also! 🙂 I think I will have a lighter list for next year, if one at all. I suppose I took them on as I was feeling a bit stagnant in what I was doing at the time. It just opens up possibilities that I think of when I am out wandering – perhaps with no particular objective in mind.

      I hope you also had a nice Thanksgiving. Thanks David!

  • That’s a long list full of noble and interesting goals, but I think that might be too much pressure for me. I have so much stress to perform in other areas of my work that I like to let my own photography go where it may and enjoy the twists and turns. I need much more work in developing my post-processing skills anyway at this point. Down the road I’ll probably do more with photography than keeping it light and fun as a good outlet, but that’s all it is for now, though I do sell quite a few prints here and there along with my father’s more known photography.

  • Well, your ahead of many people because you made a list. And, as long as they are in your head they will come to life. Strange that you mentioned a list as I made a list of projects to work on this morning. Brown is here also and those trees that were brightly colored are naked.

    What an awesome photo!

  • Oh, and by the way, the leaf shot accompanying this post is an instant favourite. It looks to me like the leaf is floating above a quantum particle collision like the ones they get in the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. The contrast between that thought and the thoughts associated with the fallen leaf is exceptionally… impactful (pun intended).

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for that unique insight Cedric. I can’t say I thought of CERN at the time, but probably similar because I was really looking at this for awhile, intrigued by the flowing lines behind the leaf that implied some type of motion, yet the frosted leaf was laying dead still.

  • I like your list of projects. I have a number of them floating around in my head but I never seem to follow through with any of them. Well, except for “blurred landscapes” (for want of a better term) which I’ve been doing for sometime but only recently felt comfortable enough to share.
    Something I am keen to try (and have plenty of ideas for) is long exposures so I look forward to seeing your efforts. I always enjoy your stonescapes and your abstracts. You have a knack at bringing out depth and tones in subject matter that would simply look flat and uninspiring if I was to shoot them (I know this because I’ve tried my hand at it after being inspired by your images).
    Panoramic macros are another area I’d like to get into but that will have to wait. Argh! so many things to do, so little time. Still, looking at the work of others is as good as making images for me so I will look forward to the coming year to see what you have in store for us.

    • Mark says:

      Well – I think it time for a list then Cedric! 🙂 Thank you for your comments on the stonescapes, I just got back into it again today and managed to get through a couple of pieces before I had to do some other things. It was enough to get my energy up to get back into them. There certainly are no shortages of things to photograph that’s for sure.

  • Sandra says:

    Oh, the frozen leaf is just beautiful. I love the complimentary colours, the warm/cold contrast. By the way, photographing frozen leaves is one of my goals that I have not accomplished yet this year – I have just passed another opportunity yesterday when I went for the landscape shots once again.
    Well, so you have enough things left to explore – and isn’t it great that we can do what we enjoy to do and don’t have the pressure of a professional? 😉

    • Mark says:

      Thanks Sandra. Well – with photographing so many grand landscapes, I can see how some simple leaves might get passed up. Sometimes it is all I have around here. 😉
      I do feel fortunate to be able to shoot what I want, and to be able to sell from that – but you are right – if there was other pressure, things might be different.

  • Paul says:

    Ah, yes. Long exposures. Well, there’s the wait for the exposure to finish, 1 – 2 minutes, then the wait for the noise reduction software to finish, 1 – 2 minutes, all the while thinking like you did. Did I screw something up? I wonder if my batteries will hold out in this cold weather. Did I remember to focus? 😀 Fun stuff.

    I don’t make the lists, either. I just kind of flow on, willy nilly. I had a great time photographing this year and, from the looks of your photos, so did you!

    • Mark says:

      Paul – I learned quickly to hate the auto noise reduction, so I turned it off. 🙂 Ended up being a mistake in some cases it seemed as I got some very vivid green pixels in some images. Hopefully you will end up posting some year end favorites?

  • Not bad, really. You got some of what you wanted so I think that makes for passing grades. I don’t think it is very likely that one could hit all the spots when making out a list. We have too many interests or desired disciplines and not enough time. I should follow your lead and make a list like that but I have too short an attention span within the day’s hours much less a whole year’s worth.
    In New England we call this “stick season”. It’s a bit more of a challenge to find something to photograph for sure.

    I really like this frosted leaf a lot, Mark. It has a nice glow against the dark background.

  • I don’t really have a “season” whenI shoot since much of my work is inside (abandoned) buildings. But I have been playing with night photography so I figure that will slow up a bit with the winter setting in.

    I look forward to having this time to catch up on post-processing and sit and watch the hours of photography workshop videos I have on deck to watch when things are slow 😉

    If you ever want to go out urbexing let me know!


    • Mark says:

      Yeah, but many of those buildings don’t exactly have central heat. 🙂

      I may have to join you and Bryan and Mike on an outing soon. I read the Packard is going to have an official resident!

  • Mark,

    Here in Easter Iowa we too are in the season of brown. It’s my least favorite time of year to be out filming. We have a repeat in Spring as well.

    Those in-between times can certainly be a challenge for sure!

    I like the idea of New Years resolutions for my filmmaking.
    Course, it’s easy to talk the talk. I need some way to make sure I walk the walk.

    I always start out with good intentions but somehow it’s too easy to put them aside for another time.

    Maybe I need to print them out and post them in my office. Or maybe I need to just put them on my Facebook page and let people give me grief if I’m not posting frame grabs from some of the footage I shot for those resolutions.

    Either way, I certainly need to put finding ways to be creative during the brown seasons.

    It’s snowing here today so the brown won’t be around too much longer.


    • Mark says:

      Hey Kevin, thanks for the comments here. I know in my heart there are DEFINITELY photographs to be found and made out there in the season of brown – as I tend to love texture. Certainly there are plenty of those to be found – in fact, one of my very favorite of all time leaf photos I made on Thanksgiving day last year. I just need to get up the motivation after coming down from the “high” of photographing so much color.

      I’d say the ruling is still out for me on writing down my goals…. I am willing to try again next year. Perhaps it is like they say with exercise – it helps if you have someone poking you along the way. So make a sharp stick, put your goals on it, and stick it on the inside of your coat. 🙂

      • Mark,

        I agree that the problem with the season of brown is that it follows such a spectacular Fall.
        It’s like an anti-climax after filming fall color, animal migrations etc.

        Maybe it’s not really that bad its just after such a spectacular show, it’s harder for us to see the beauty that there really is out there.

        I’m going to try and write down my goals for my filmmaking this coming year and put them out there.
        I certainly can’t do any worse than I’ve been doing. Maybe a little public humiliation will give me that extra push I need to make them happen this time around!


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