Autumn… a second spring

Autumn again, and time for me to celebrate the season’s spectacular beauty with a wee bit of photography and calligraphy. I can’t believe that a year has passed since I last did this. It’s actually my third autumn post (view my first and second), so it’s already beginning to feel like a tradition. To be honest, the only reason I feature autumn in a post every year is because it’s my favourite season, and my blog gives me an excuse to wallow awhile in its magic. I do appreciate the other seasons’ merits, but the sights and smells of autumn, to me, are the most evocative.

A few days ago I pulled on my walking boots and began my search for an autumnal scene with potential… one that I could photograph and feature in my still-to-be-written autumn post… but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I wanted atmosphere and colour and composition, but the scene also had to include an inviting empty space into which I could slip an autumn-related quote. The difficulty lay in trying to envisage such a final image, complete with quote, while walking in circles around various trees and mounds of fallen leaves, assessing their potential… a pastime that drew curious glances from a steady stream of dog-walkers.

On top is the original unprocessed photograph, complete with bench and lamp-post. Below shows the photograph after being horizontally flipped, and shows the cropped area that I used (note the absent bench and lamp-post). Click image to increase size.

Fortunately, when I eventually did discover a scene that I thought might work, I was carrying my mobile phone (a Sony Ericsson Xperia which has an absolutely amazing camera) so I was able to capture the scene without attracting too much attention. I intentionally snapped a bigger area than I would need (see top image on left), so that I could experiment with the composition. The resolution on my phone’s camera is so good that I was able crop the image at a later stage without losing too much definition.

As you can see, the original unprocessed photo definitely wouldn’t win any photography awards, but I saw potential in the golden-leaved tree and its carpet of fallen leaves, and I was able to manipulate the image quite easily on my iMac to suit my requirements.

First, I tweaked the basic image’s Levels and Curves in Photoshop, then I cloned out the bench and the lamp post behind the tree. Using PhotoTools, a Photoshop plug-in, I gave the image an instant HDR effect. I then placed two different textured layers above the image and set one to ‘overlay,’ and one to ‘hard light.’ Utilising the Rule of Thirds, I cropped the image’s dimensions to zoom in on the tree, then added the distressed border. Finally, I flipped the image horizontally, simply because I felt the quote would look best on the left side of the tree.

All that was left to do was find the perfect quote to write and insert into the image, but that task proved as difficult as finding the perfect photo. After reading dozens and dozens of autumn-related quotes, I eventually drew up a short list of four worthy contenders. I chose, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower,” because I thought those sentiments best complimented the image.The other contenders, which I’ll hold onto till next autumn, were…

 “Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground.” (Andrea Gibson)

 “Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile.” (William Cullen Bryant)

 “Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” (Chad Sugg)

With those three quotations already in the bag, all I have to do next October is search for another appropriate scene to photograph. But even if the perfect scene proves as elusive as this year’s, I can think of few better ways to spend autumn afternoons than wandering through my local park, camera in hand. Particularly when ‘every leaf is a flower.’

Amazing the difference a few days makes!


Today, I became aware of the fleetingness of Autumn’s beauty when I walked past the tree featured in the above post. Unbelievably, during the few days since I photographed the tree with its abundance of golden leaves, it has become stripped of its splendour, and its branches are now almost bare as shown on the left. Since it was more by luck than by design that I stumbled upon the tree in all its glory, I feel fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time. Hopefully, I’ll be just as fortunate in my hunt for the perfect autumn scene next year!


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