Autumn Day 

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr. 
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Rilke- Herbsttag (includes translation into English)

The Autumn is again upon us on the West coast of the USA. Photographers cluster around the patches of Aspen trees in the mountains in October. In November, we chase the Cottonwood trees in the valley, and the ornamental trees at the city parks, producing a sheer number of similar, clone-like, vivid pictures that get many likes on social media, but nobody really cares about. 

Although the season is short for photography, the running around, crowds, traffic jams, and shortage of places to park alongside the aspen tree clusters with yellow leaves can make it very long. Last year I took four days off to chase fall colors in the Eastern Sierras. Every day, my friend and I set out with the crack of dawn and we would not rest until the last sunray disappeared behind the mountains. This year, I may pass. I am tired, which probably comes with age, and with having been there so many times before. Furthermore, the wildfires have caused quite a destruction around the Tahoe area and the famous Hope Valley. Interstate highway 50 has just opened for residents. Maybe I’ll leave the area to those who live there this one time.

Given that this is a photography blog, I did not want to let the season pass without any notice. The featured photograph above is Martis’ Creek Cabin, near Tahoe. I photographed it about this time last year. The shallow depth of field, achieved with f/4, a relatively long lens (70-200 mm at 70mm), and focus on the foreground, invite the viewer’s eyes to follow the abandoned wood to the old, decaying cabin immersed in a cluster of Aspen trees with yellow leaves, then to the bright spot beside the roof, on its right. This photograph was only possible after the sun set behind the mountains and was my last, before retiring for the day and for the season.

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

16 thoughts on “Autumn Day 

  1. We all have our rationales for not going out to take pictures at a certain time, or for pushing ourselves to go out even when a part of us doesn’t want to. All the reasons you give for desisting are plausible.

    In college I took one year of German and had “Herbsttag” fully memorized. Two decades later, while studying Catalan on the island of Mallorca in 1985, I surprised one of the German students in the course by reciting the lines you quoted. It’s a great poem.

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    1. Yes, mostly in view of covid, seasonal photography outdoors is complicated. Everybody else seems to be outdoors now.

      I attended German school in Brazil from 3rd grade on. I used to be much more fluent, particularly reading, but I must confess that lack of practice has erased much of it from my aging brain.

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  2. The melancholy of fall is my favorite time of year. It starts several natural bird habits that runs through March/April. Also, there are more clouds and color variations to the sky.
    Love the way you let the way you let the cabin tell its story in an impressionistic approach.

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    1. It was a pleasant surprise this morning as I walked out for my run, that it was raining and there are clouds! Such lovely change of weather here in the Central Valley of CA where most days are plain sunny! Thanks for your kind words.

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  3. This is a nice shot, unique and one you can call your own. I enjoy doing autumn foliage photography but like you prefer avoiding crowds, era of Covid or not, so visit spots that don’t get photographed all that often or find views others don’t notice or go when many others are still asleep. I hope that they don’t appear clone-like. 🙂

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    1. Thanks. Yes, the tricks to avoid the crowds are worth it. As for comes pictures, there are some places here in ca EVERYONE photographs. A cabin in Hope Valley, you can only shoot from across the fence and ALL photos of that place look just the same. Sometimes there are lines to park alongside the road. That’s what I meant.

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      1. I don’t travel much, basically only to Acadia N.P. but I know that many photographers visit “icons”, even local ones, and if I did travel I suppose I might but would not be one of those whom you see with 50 others all waiting for the sun within Mesa Arch or the like. For some, uniqueness isn’t as important as showing their friends a glory shot or having it on their wall.There is a reason so many all make the same image but like you I prefer something that is entirely, or almost, my own. It may have a common theme, like autumn color, but I like to think the composition is if not singular at least not often shot. I did not take your remark personally and was making a joke. 🙂

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  4. I smiled at your comment about the mostly-sunny weather there. I lived in the Bay Area for a few years, and I found the weather beautiful at first, but eventually a bit boring. I longed for clouds and thunderstorms!

    One year, I traveled up to Rio Vista in the Sacramento River delta on a weekly basis. In autumn, the golden grasses were as appealing to me as the flowers in springtime. It’s that golden glow that I enjoy in this photo. The landscape is different, but the light is familiar.

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  5. Lovely photo. We usually have great fall color here in Western PA but for some reason the leaves just seem to be drying up and falling off without a ton of color. Like you say, there is next year.

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  6. Hi Alessandra,
    it’s amazing how often we see Rilke’s poem quoted in the last fortnight.
    We have wonderful autumn light right now. It’s especially beautiful when the sun shines behind the copper beeches.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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