Tag Archives: December

“Stillness”

“There is something sacred about stillness. The world has not changed, outside our bounds, we just realize peace and tranquility are possible, if we make space for it.”
– Ed Lehming

This is what I’m often faced with, as I take time to hike the local forests. It’s not a grand vista or a festival filled with brightly dressed people. The forest, in its simplest form, even at its gloomiest, still has pockets of beauty to share.

Here, bright orange beech leaves and the occasional stray oak leaf brightened the path in contrast to the dark December trees. Gentle snow drifted between the boughs and all the world was silent as I stood still on the trail, simply enjoying the peacefulness of the moment, my visible breath rising through the air around my face.

I love these times, where my senses are filled with the life of the forest. It’s what draws me here. You see, even in apparent stillness and calm, life in the forest goes on. Soon, small birds flit between branches, seeking seeds, squirrels scamper out of sight and into the high branches, and the very trees crackle as the temperature dips, yet the sense of stillness rarely departs. The other sound that fills my ears is the crunch of the snow beneath my feet, seeming so loud in this quiet retreat.

Though summer hikes have their appeal, I think I prefer the stillness and bright purity of winter, especially after a fresh snow, when the whole first seems to be inhaling deeply during its long rest.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 95 mm
1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com

 

“Bleak?”

“Bleak?”

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” 
― Shannon L. Alder

I left the title as is, my first impression, but then, I looked deeper, at the bright orange beech leaves, the richness of the tree trunks, and the pale clean blue of the snow and realized, it’s not bleak at all.

Perception, is driven so much by experience and the stimuli present, at the moment. At the moment that I made the photo, I was standing in a winter forest, the temperature was hovering around -20C and delicate snow, like sparkling fairy dust, fell between the frozen limbs of the bare trees. So, now, as I consider this scene and reflect on my own words, that initial perception of bleakness, which many sojourners into the winter forest experience, is simply now true. if you look past first impressions, there is so much more.

In fact, as I consider that day and the 7 km hike a took, blazing trails though undisturbed snow, several parts of the forest were surprisingly alive with sound and motion. Within a hemlock grove, the air high above was filled with incredible birdsong, as hundreds of hungry chickadees flitted between limbs. The sound was indescribable and permeated the forest as I stood and soaked it in.

Ah, winter forests, not what they seem to be 🙂

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm

1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Sunshine on the Hillside”

“Sunshine on the Hillside”

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

Even at this time of year, days away from the first official day of winter, I’m enjoying the sunshine of autumn. Especially this time of year when it is so bright and crisp, yet seemingly scarce, making it all the more precious.

As I spent a few hours out on the trails last weekend, the slight overcast sky opened up, albeit briefly, to let some of this precious light fall on the world around me. It has a particularly magical effect on the golden beech leaves which still cling with incredible tenacity to the branches that bore them through the summer. This wonderful gold on white effect is absolutely beautiful when the sun strikes it.

It was especially noticeable on this hillside of plantation red pines interspersed with young maples. In the mix of trees, a few young beech trees are starting to establish themselves, standing slightly apart from their companion trees. And, since they still bear leaves, they really stand out in the bare woods.

We just had a substantial snowfall this past week, so I am hoping to spend at least a bit of time hiking and photographing this forest, transformed once more, into something altogether different from a mere few weeks ago.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/22.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Traces”

“Traces”“Thank goodness for the first snow, it was a reminder–no matter how old you became and how much you’d seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.” 
― Candace Bushnell

As my hike last weekend proceeded, the day warmed up just enough for the exposed patches of snow to melt, leaving only traces in the shadows, but enough to remind me that more is going to come and that the seasons will continue their endless cycle.

I like this part of the trail, primarily dominated by large maples and interspersed with their younger offspring and the occasional red pine. There is something magical about the light and how it diffuses and bounces off the trunks. This image, I think, shows that well and also captures some of the remaining greenery, ferns mostly, defying the rapidly cooling days, as winter approaches.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“The Light Shifts”

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.” 
― Leonard Cohen

Truly, a crack in the clouds, and that’s how the light gets in. Despite the snow-covered ground and a cold snap to the air, a warm and wondrous light shines through the treetops, setting the beech leaves along the trail alight with gold.

It’s scenes like this that keep me coming back to the woods. Well, it’s more than that, actually, but the constant play of light in the forest as a very significant part of it and it brings me joy. Even on the coldest days of winter, a slight play and shift in light can change a cold, dark forest into a wonderland.

With this beautiful light ahead of me, I can’t help but travel further into the wood. Lately, I’m finding myself squeezing my forest time into weekends and hanging onto those moments to sustain me through the week. So, days like today, where the light shifted between cool, and slightly dull to bright and warm within a few hours makes the time on the trails even that much more special.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks, with some much-needed downtime, and some moderate snowfall, to get me well into a likely chaotic January.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/20.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (images are available for purchase)
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“Early December Dusting”

“Early December Dusting”

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” 
― Lewis Carroll

The first real snow has dusted the trails, changing the landscape and light. The temperatures have dropped and I expect this dusting will be the start of several snowy days.

The light today was really odd, not quite cool and not quite warm and it had a very odd effect on many of the trees. It accentuated the slight green cast caused by the fine film of moss that covers most of the smooth barked trees year round, yet today, the green was quite noticeable. I wondered if it would translate into my photos and it did. The effect is a bit bothersome, but that’s what it looked like and I chose not to push those levels down, rather, I kept them to remind me of this odd December light.

As my Saturday hike progressed, that light shifted again and the green became less noticeable. More to follow.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/18.0, ISO 400

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“December Freeze Up”

“December Freeze Up”

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…” 
― John Geddes

Seriously, I could stop my post here with this all too appropriate quote. As I stood, gazing across the cloudy pond surface, northwest winds whipping past my face, summer was truly a distant memory. Yet, the beauty remains (and the bugs are gone).

I put just a slight movement into this image, just enough to add a misty feel, highlighting the brightness of the distant birch trees, which dominate the far shore.

As I stood on that shore, I wondered how many people just stroll past, walking their dogs or simply in their own worlds, and miss this lovely scene? I’ve made images from the same point and had local friends ask me where the picture was taken.

In this instance, the light and clouds play an integral part in the overall composition, combining with the yellowed grasses and rushes to create a feel of a cold autumn day. ducks and geese have long since migrated to warmer climes, leaving the water’s surface undisturbed and rife for a good freezing. SO, since we have had evenings well below freezing, the approaching winter is letting us know it not too far off, relegating summer and balmy days to fond memory.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD@78mm

1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 100

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/EdLehming
or my website (images are available for purchase)
http://www.edlehming.com