This photograph, made in Georgia in late June, has the distinct feel of autumn to me. It is an illusion, of course; the rich reds are attributable to a Japanese maple in summer garb. The early evening was hot and sticky, the air still.
But I find the effect comfortably deluding. For just a moment, I have the sense of a crisp fall chill and turning leaves.
As the summer rolls on and I struggle to find photographic subject matter here in southern Appalachia, awash in green leaves, hazy blue skies and endless sunshine, I’ve apparently evolved. I’m no longer trying to avoid the fishermen; in fact, I’m stalking them. I watch them launch in the cool morning dampness from my perch in the shadows along the lakeshore. I swat absently at the occasional gnat and consider that evolution.
I’m struck by the parallels between their sport and my photographic practice. Fishing, they say, is all about patience. But so is photography, I remind myself as I wait rather impatiently for the boat to move into that shaft of light and for the line to arc out over the water. Hook the big one? Well, how about producing your masterpiece? Revel in the silence? Check. Mixture of art and craft, of skill and luck, of frustration and bliss? Check. Obsession with gear? Check. Up before the sun? Double-check. Addictive? Most definitely.
I have an enduring love of these ancient mountains – the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia. Especially on a morning like this. I sit very still, curled up and warmly comfortable, reading and listening to the low growl of thunder and patter of a soft cool mountain rain that is predicted to last most of today. Having so recently explored the nearby mountain woods of Lumpkin County, Georgia, I can visualize this same summer rain as it is happening there, indiscriminately soaking the tall oaks and poplars, rhododendron and ferns, and the rich red soil, while streams slowly swell and spill their way forward, out of these old hills toward the sea.