Nine Days To Christmas: Two Santas and Three Snowmen

From The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey:

“Jack got up in the middle of the night and he saw a girl run through the trees. The next morning — we had built this little snowman, well, a little snow girl, actually — and it was knocked over and the scarf and mittens were gone. It sounds silly, but I think the child must have done it. It’s not that I mind, really. I would have given them to her if she needed them so. I’m just worried she was lost or something. Imagine, a little girl out in the woods in winter like that.”

From A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd:

“A long line of nervous, fidgeting, greedy urchins wound in and out of the aisles, shoving, sniffling, and above all waiting, waiting to tell HIM what they wanted. In those days it was not easy to disbelieve fully in Santa Claus, because there wasn’t much else to believe in, and there were many theological arguments over the nature of, the existence of, the affirmation and denial of his existence. However, ten days before zero hour, the air pulsing to the strains of “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” the store windows garlanded with green-and-red wreaths, and the toy department bristling with shiny Flexible Flyers, there were few who dared to disbelieve.”



4 Comments

Ten Days To Christmas: Peace

Black Elk, quoted in Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

Peace comes within the souls of men
When the realize their oneness with the universe.

Leave a comment

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #9

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Autumn is a time when warm color and rustling sounds resonate throughout the plant world….

“The sun arcs lower in the sky, softening and burnishing the light. All colors seem to emanate an inner warmth as if the heat of the summer were stored within them. The most mundane scenes — an empty concrete basketball court alive with whirling, windblown leaves, a chocolate-brown field spiked with tawny corn stubble — take on the qualities of gold leaf, the light of a Venetian Renaissance painting.

“The lower sun also creates lovely lighting effects…. While in summer it would be suppertime before any similar effect might be possible, now mid- and late afternoon becomes a time for backlit drama. Grass panicles glisten and shimmer when touched by the slanted light; foliage reds and golds are intensified as the sun passes through them; fragile petals resemble halos given this autumnal spotlight.”

This is the ninth post in my autumn series of new photos. Seven previous posts showed images from my visits to Oakland Cemetery, and the galleries on this and the eighth post are from Grant Park.

The photos in this first gallery were taken along Cherokee Avenue. In the last four images, a bright mid-day sun had made its appearance, so these and the remaining photos in this post gave me another opportunity to play in the light, like I like to do, and learn more about dealing with brightly lit landscapes.

On the map of the park above, you can see Zoo Atlanta toward the bottom, and just above that a series of connected walking paths in the center. The photos in this next gallery are from that section. With the first three, the sun was behind me and created a lot of shadows in the scene, with additional shadow from a towering tree whose trunk you can see — especially in the first image — on the left. The orange/red maple at the center of the scene was barely visible (from this shaded point of view) yet its color was so nice I wanted to try and capture it anyway. Here’s what the first image looked like out of the camera:

By patiently manipulating shadows, whites, and highlights in Lightroom a bit at a time, I was able to make the hidden tree at the center the main subject of this image and the next two, and add some color to pop both the leaves on that tree and the carpet of leaves in the foreground.

With the remaining images in this gallery, the sun was facing me from behind the trees, creating nice glowing backlighting, adjusted in Lightroom to eliminate excessive highlights and retain detail and color. When viewing these in a slideshow, select “View Full Size” if you want to see the detail I was able to capture and keep.

I took the photos in this last gallery deeper into the park toward Zoo Atlanta. Here again the sun was nearly directly behind the trees (imagine it just outside the frame, to the left of each scene). Of all the photos from this year’s autumn projects, these were the most challenging to adjust in Lightroom, the challenge stemming from the high contrast between dark shadows and very bright backlighting.

I’ve experimented with different kinds of lighting with many of the photos in this series, but with these I had to take frequent breaks during post-processing because the high brightness and contrast would seem to create afterimages in my eyes as I made adjustments. How weird was that! Still, one of my goals was to work with lighting that was a bit extreme — even if I wasn’t successful — to see what I could come up with. I don’t know what technical “rules” photos like this might violate, but in the end I was reasonably satisfied with the results … so here they are! Once again, try viewing the photos at full size from the slideshow so you can see the level of detail I was able to capture and retain.

The trees in this last gallery above, especially with the backlighting, looked very much like they were decorated with Christmas lights. At least it seemed that way as I wandered among the leaves to get to a good vantage point. A fitting end to this series, I think, as we transition from autumn to winter and the holiday season. Stay tuned for photos of shiny objects and glittery whatnots!

My earlier autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #1

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #2

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #3

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #4

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #5

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #6

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #7

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #8

Four Small Signs of Early Fall

More Small Signs of Early Fall

Even More Small Signs of Early Fall

Autumn Tints at Twilight

Burnt Orange and Singed Pumpkin

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

2 Comments

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #8

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer, in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Autumn is a time when warm color and rustling sounds resonate throughout the plant world….

“In the deciduous woodlands of the East and Midwest, winter spreads down the land from north to south, from highland to lowland, rolling a carpet of foliage color over the landscape before it. The land, so serenely green for all those months, suddenly looks like an infrared photograph….

“On the grasslands of the prairie and plains, the tired gray-green and buff of late summer take on richer amber, sienna and rust tones as the foliage and seedheads of the grasses ripen. Late-blooming wildflowers, predominantly deep golds and purples, attract sleepy butterflies and bees, while more energetic birds frenetically gorge themselves on seeds before the first snow cover blankets the land.”

This is the eighth post in my autumn series of new photos. The previous seven posts showed images from my visits to Oakland Cemetery, and the galleries on this post (and one more, to follow shortly) are from Grant Park. The park is a 131-acre woodland, established in Atlanta in 1883, near the center of the neighborhood by the same name and a short walk from my home.

I took all the photos in these galleries on the last weekday in November, substituting Black Friday for an Orange-Red-Yellow Friday, shortly before the neighborhood trees shed most of their leaves during three days of high winds. This first gallery includes photos from the north side of the park; on the map above, that’s the corner at the top where Sydney Street and Park Avenue meet, near one of the park’s entrances. The homes slightly-visible over the hill and through the trees (in the first four photos) are on Sydney Street; and the roadway showing in the third, fourth, and hidden in the fifth image leads, all mysterious-like, deeper into a park section darkened by massive elm and oak trees (collectively referred to (by some people) as “elk trees“). I composed most of these images to include the street lamps along the roadway, to help emphasize the height of the trees by comparison. The street lamps, I estimate, are 10 to 12 feet tall; the surrounding trees, therefore, are very very much taller.

I took this series in the section that runs along Cherokee Avenue; on the left side of the map, you can see where Cherokee traces the entire east side of the park. Orange and red leaves were still abundant, even as you can see there’s a thick ground-cover of those already shed.

Further along the Cherokee Avenue side of the park, near an entrance at Georgia Avenue, I found these bright yellow surprises. Most trees with yellow leaves, having turned several weeks earlier, were bare by the end of November, but the one in the first three images “stole the show” framed as it was near the entrance. The last three images show a different tree nearby; still turning from green to orange and yellow.

Since we’re approaching the Christmas holiday, I imagine you’ve probably been wondering where Christmas gnomes come from. I know I have.

Mystery solved. I found this gnome nursery at the bottom of a hill underneath a giant pine tree, where pointy gnome heads were starting to emerge from this thick bed of pine needles. One baby gnome did pop out and scurry up the trunk of a tree; I got a shot but then I accidentally deleted it during post-processing. Sorry about that; you’ll just have to trust me. 🙂

My previous autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #1

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #2

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #3

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #4

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #5

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #6

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #7

Four Small Signs of Early Fall

More Small Signs of Early Fall

Even More Small Signs of Early Fall

Autumn Tints at Twilight

Burnt Orange and Singed Pumpkin

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

3 Comments

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #7

From Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo:

“Red leaves deserve special attention, because their color results from chemical changes a bit different from those coloring other leaves. Most of us know that shorter days result in less chlorophyll and thus less green color in leaves. Unmasked by green, the yellows and oranges in leaves are more visible to us. But there’s something else going on with reds and purples. The same pigment that puts the red in apples and cherries is produced under some conditions in the leaves of some trees, like maples. The pigment is anthocyanin, and its production depends on sunlight, rainfall, and weather, unlike the chemicals responsible for yellow, gold, and orange coloration, which remain more or less consistent from year to year. Cool (but not freezing) nights and sunny days favor anthocyanin production, so some years the fall foliage will be redder than in others.”

This is the seventh post in my autumn series of new photos from Oakland Cemetery. For the galleries below, I assembled images where red is the dominant color, including these nandina that had produced large clusters of orange and red berries. I took these in mid- or late-November; it seems that the berry clusters spraying from the center of each plant deepen in color as fall progresses, and the leaves — since we’ve had only a couple of days of below freezing weather — are still going strong.

Here are a few isolated red subjects. I only got a couple usable shots of the grasses in the second row — with tiny seedlings turning from light red toward burgundy — as the slightest breeze threw them out of focus. But I was glad to get these two since the plants aren’t very hardy and have since withered away with later fall.

These are all photos from the same maple tree, where I spent an hour or so trying out different combinations of lighting and backgrounds, including some backgrounds that were lit brightly enough to create a bit of dissonance between the way we normally see foregrounds versus backgrounds. I might try some more experiments like that; it’s a fun challenge to get the right levels of light and shadow in the image (they tend to look blown out in the camera) so that you can (sort of) reverse the relationships between front and back in Lightroom.

This is a somewhat random collection of reds, plants and trees on different parts of the cemetery property, with a few backlit subjects in the middle of the gallery. The last image is my favorite; the contrasting reds and greens reminded me of a poinsettia, and transitioning from autumn to the Christmas holidays.

My previous autumn 2019 photo mash-ups, and a few other posts with new fall color photos, are here:

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #1

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #2

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #3

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #4

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #5

Autumn in Atlanta: Photo Mash-Up #6

Four Small Signs of Early Fall

More Small Signs of Early Fall

Even More Small Signs of Early Fall

Autumn Tints at Twilight

Burnt Orange and Singed Pumpkin

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Leave a comment