Photo of the Week: First of Fall

First of Fall
“First of Fall”: Photo taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia

It doesn’t feel like autumn.  The days are still hot and the cooler night temperatures have yet to arrive. Shorts and sandals are still front and center.  I like shorts and sandals.

Fall is coming – but not quite yet. It’s a perfect time for visiting gardens! Gone are the summer crowds, leaving the Coneflowers, Chrysanthemums, Asters and Solidago all to me. Ornamental grasses are fully grown, their seed heads bursting as they sway in the breeze. Squirrels wander the woods collecting acorns as they drop from high branches. There is a stir in the air, as if last call has been announced. 

A few years ago I visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia (one of the best gardens around, in my opinion).  I wandered through the collections appreciating the subtle sounds and movements I don’t always get to notice. I smiled at the sounds of the wind, water and bees. 

In the Japanese garden there is a replica Tea House overlooking a pond. Maple trees provide a bit of privacy and shade.  Surrounding the Tea House is a beautiful stream that twists through stone and lush vegetation.  A pair of wooden foot bridges cross the stream, inviting contemplation of the swirling waters below.

Looking over one of the bridges I spotted a bright red leaf on one of the stones below. The bold colors stood out against the shadowy waters under the opposite bridge. I stared at it for a while, waiting for the current to catch it and carry it downstream.  A few waves tickled the leaf, but it stayed put on that stone.  The more I watched it, the more I became aware of its purpose in announcing fall’s arrival.

I lost track of time as I studied and photographed this leaf. Walking up and down the bridge I looked for different patterns of stone and water to provide a suitable background. The photographs were nice, with a geometric flavor to them, but they felt static.

Searching for a new angle I kneeled low and composed through the bridge’s pickets.  Bingo!  The lower viewing angle added depth and perspective, isolating the leaf on a rocky outpost. The leaf’s position looked much more tentative in the swirl of water around it.

As I tweaked the position of my tripod to get the best angle possible, clouds began to cover the sun, casting shadows on the stream below. The brightly colored leaf became an exclamation point on the black rock.

I don’t like to pick favorites, but I have a special appreciation of this photograph. It has a dynamic feel to it, and a bit of an edge. The leaf is a bold focal point, but the background does not get overpowered.  The dark stone and the braided stream bed create interesting patterns that circle the leaf and return the eye to the center. Yin and yang are happy.

Do you want to see more photographs?  Great! Please visit my website! I’ll post another image and story next week!

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