May 11, 2018

Partly Cloudy, 40 Degrees, Light Northwest Winds.

I awake with pale gray light in my bedroom window, and roll out of bed when I hear the first tentative bird call. I am hoping to catch the sunrise in the woods or at least be close. My pain level is not bad, though it hurts in the shower. I don’t know why, but this seems to be one of the worst places for me.

The woods are getting really rich with greenery. 

I have a quick breakfast of toast and coffee and as I brush my teeth, Jamie jumps out of bed and pokes his head in the door. He knows my routine so well that he doesn’t get up until he hears the toothbrush. He’s all bright eyes and alertness as he watches me with laser like attention. I put his collar on, which excites him a lot. He is now so excited that any movement toward the door cause a dash and he stands pressed to the jam, ready to burst out the door.

The deep woods are still pretty sparse. The green ground cover at right is Lily of the Valley. 

I gather my camera gear. I’m taking the full complement of gear this morning. Tripod, camera, and three lenses. It’s not a big deal. The tripod is light, and the lenses fit in a small pack on my back. I load up the car—I’m not ready yet to walk over to the woods—and we drive the half mile and park on the side of the road. I hastily take a shot of the road, but there’s a relatively large amount of traffic and I’m interested in the sunrise, so I hit the trail pretty quickly.

The partly cloudy sky and soft light is perfect for these images. 

It’s a gorgeous, soft morning, with sunrise just happening as I’m walking down. The temperature is cool, but I’m wearing only a hooded sweatshirt and I’m perfectly comfortable. I stop a couple of time to capture scenes that look interesting now, with the leaves out and the low morning sun skimming through the woods. I don’t know if these shots will amount to much, but I photograph anything that catches my eye.

The trees are filling in with delicate greenery, making beautiful patterns. 

I should probably mention that I’m not in pain as I walk. After yesterday’s doctor appointment I experienced really minimal pain when I was out photographing. I can feel that I’m healing. My lower back is still a little sore, and I was still numb below the knee yesterday, but today I can feel that is maybe fading too. I have a physical therapy session scheduled this afternoon. I think I’ll keep the appointment. They should be able to tell me what to do to do the final healing; what to exercise and what to stretch.

I like the outstretched fingers of the three bare trees. 

I take a couple of shots at the Southern lookout with my wide angle lens. These are just shots of the trees with a little back-light from the sun. Again, these don’t look spectacular, but you never know what will look good with proper editing.

These trees are really filling out. Note the wild branches at bottom. 

Up at the Northern lookout, the sun is lighting the trees and I take several shots of the trail. Over just a few minutes I can see the light change. This might be interesting to see in the photographs. I’m walking my trail in the reverse direction from what I normally do and it feels a little funny. I went the other way to get down to the sunrise as quickly as possible.

Just a nice, pretty pattern of leaves against the sky. 

Now I’m heading up the trail to the woods. I take a couple of wide shots to document the development of the leaves in the woods. They’re starting, but it’s still pretty bare looking. As I’m doing this, I look up and see that the little Maple leaves look beautiful against the sky.

I love how a single bud produces these complexes of leaves, while others produce the flowers. 

The sky is a soft quilt of clouds and blue sky, lit gently by the now obscured sun. I take a bunch of shots looking up at these beautiful patterns. They will be the spring equivalent of all the shots I took this winter and I think they will be beautiful. I think I might leave the color in these shots. The blue is not the deep blue of the clear winter sky. It’s soft and there’s a bit of color in the clouds, though not a lot.

I love these overhead shots. I don’t know why, and I don’t know if anyone else will. I think they will look wonderful at large scale. Maybe even larger than my usual large scale, which is about 27 x 40”. I could print them as big as 40 x 60” or a little bigger if I want to. I would only do that if the gallery wanted one that big. I have no place to hang a picture that big.

In fact, I have almost no place to hang anything of mine. My little room is filled with guitars, motorcycle memorabelia, and I had to hang a TV in there so I would have a place to watch when Lisa is watching her Christmas movies or the goofy romantic comedies that she likes.

Here you can see that a single bud is producing all of these leaves, with more to open. 

Maybe with the new living room remodel I’ll get a place to hang photographs. That would be so nice. The living room is an interesting challenge for Lisa and me. When I moved here, of course it was entirely filled with her furniture, art and antiques. As we re-design the space, we’ve moved out a couple of pieces of furniture and we haven’t talked about what art will be on the walls.

The challenge for us is that we have completely different aesthetics. She loves antiques, and would be perfectly happy in a house that her Grandmother would have liked. I come from a background of having a modern architect and an artist for parent. I grew up with extremely modern spaces and modern furniture and art on the walls.

We’ll have to see how we put those things together. I would like to have a place to hang photographs, and we’ve bought a mid-century modern couch and chairs that we both like. Now we have to fit together our aesthetics with what remains. I don’t want to make a space where Lisa is not happy, but I think it will be difficult to do much that I would like, without doing that. We will see. Our goal is to make something that is ours, rather than just hers.

These pictures are surprisingly satisfying, even if the intent is largely documentary. 

Back to the photography, I do a lot of the overhead shooting. It hurts my lower back to lean back like that and my stability seems to be effected by my weak leg and sore back. But I continue for quite a while, because this is something I’ve really wanted to capture. I want to do it again as the leaves mature. That might be only a matter of days or a week or so, so I’ll have to keep an eye on the sky, so to speak.

I notice, as I climb the hill up to the upper level, that I’m tired. Sitting on the couch for three weeks has diminished my fitness considerably. Its also put four or five pounds around my middle that I don’t like. Up at the upper level where the brush is, I shoot a lot of leaves clusters as they open. I don’t have an extension tube, but I get as close as I can. I’ll have to do this again with an extension tube. It lets me get really close so the detail really jumps out, but I think these shots will have a little more depth of field and the wider shots take in what are now becoming pretty big clusters of new leaves.

Look at all of the leaf clusters that emerge from this single bud! 

There are lots of leaves to shoot up here. I’m thrilled because these are all the things I feared I would miss as I sat on the couch and suffered. There are everything from tiny leaves on bushes and vines to beautiful little clusters of freshly emerged leaves on the trees. I find some small oak trees that allow me to photograph fully formed, tiny little clusters of oak leaves. Mostly, the oaks around here are huge and I can’t get to the leaves and the tassles that hang from some of them.

I find all kinds of leaves emerging. I’m not sure of the species, and I really should look them up, but time is so short with all the time I spend photographing and editing and writing. The leaf clusters fascinate me. Many of them are quite complex, with many leaves emerging from a tiny little bud. I believe that these leaves are fully formed inside the bud and emerge and develop into the large leaves that we see in summer. If there’s a botanist out there who can comment on this, that would be wonderful.

I realize that I’m observing the woods more closely than ever, and learning what happens throughout the year, but I don’t know much about what I’m seeing. I have only high school biology classes and some looking at guides to trees and shrubs. I can identify the major species of tree, but have almost no idea of what all those bushes are that make the upper level of this property an impassible tangle. That would be a project for another time. Maybe next year?

This little crab-apple is not native to these woods. It was either planted by someone or perhaps a seed was carried here from decorative plants in the neighborhoods nearby. 

I photograph a number of different leaves, and some of them as patterns against the higher trees. I realize that I’m getting really dizzy, and that this is caused by the pain pills I took this morning. I knew they made me sleepy. Now I’m seeing that they make me dizzy as hell and sleepy too.

It’s time to head back to the car and get out of here before I can’t drive at all. I still stop to shoot a couple of more leaf clusters, despite the dizziness, but I get back to the car pretty quickly and drive home without incident. It’s only a half mile or so, so it’s not too big a hazard.

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