Today we’re gonna take a little trip to the mountains. Okay, well, no – it’s not today, but November 6, 2005. And it’s not the mountains, but a mountain, or perhaps more specifically a metamorphic quartzite monadnock, but I don’t have a folder dedicated to metamorphic quartzite monadnocks, which is good because this is the only thing that would be in it. Pilot Mountain, I mean, (“Pilot Metamorphic Quartzite Monadnock,”) which is that big knobby thing in the distance. And that in and of itself wasn’t the primary subject of this image, but the blowing leaves instead – I just used the mountain/metamorphic quartzite monadnock as a backdrop.
I always thought this was a granite extrusion, a magma channel from many eons ago, perhaps the last remnant of a volcano, before there were even grits in the state. Yeah, that long ago – boggles the mind, don’t it? But no, this is likely compacted and fused sand, which in itself came from the erosion of the mountains still many kilometers west of here. It sits all by itself, a big pinnacle among very shallow hills of the region, not even foothills of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province yet – which is why I thought it was an extrusion of tough, hard to weather rock. Which it is, but not in the way that I thought. What remains unanswered (in my five minutes of research for this post,) is why there’s a big knob of compacted and metamorphic sand in the middle of nothing else.
All that aside, this is a variant of a photo that I’ve wanted for years, which is to catch a falling leaf in an open area of sky among the branches of surrounding trees – preferably, much closer and more distinct. You might imagine that this is hard, and I can tell you that your imagination hasn’t even remotely prepared you for how hard, since I’ve attempted it countless times now. There are nice gusty days in the fall where leaves will drop by the dozens or hundreds, so all you have to do is pick a spot and wait, right? Yeah, no. Leaves go all over the place, dancing to their own aerodynamics, quick and slow, and getting one in a narrow patch of sky, focused, is seriously challenging. Or maybe it isn’t, and it’s simply beyond my capabilities, but for the purposes of this narrative we’ll (rashly) assume that I have some modicum of skill in getting photos.
And I’ll point out something else, something that also has a bearing on my attempted-yet-so-far-failed goal. While there are several airborne leaves in the frame, there’s just one that says, ‘leaf,’ that even looks unmistakably like a leaf – without that, the others are amorphous shapes which may or may not be leaves. Or birds. Or trash. Leaves can come in many different shapes, a lot of them indistinct and easy to mistake for something else, out of context, so my imagined shot would ideally have one as recognizable as the specimen at the top of the frame – which is even more demanding. I suppose I should simply resort to Photoshop…
Want to see a curious effect? The same photo can be found here, with a slightly different crop, but notice how different it looks, how much more autumny with more brown bits excised.