by Editor Radu R.
As an European I took autumn for granted, with all its riches and symbolisms. In my childhood it was the time when school started again. It was the time when I went with my father to pick the apples, the pears or the plums in our orchard. It was the time when the sky belonged to flocks of migrating birds.
As a photographer I begun to appreciate autumn’s uniqueness, the special light quality, the abundance of colours, and... as it happened one year, its ephemeral character.
I was planning to shoot on a specific location, close to my home town. I was just waiting for the autumn colours. I scouted that place during the weekend but the leaves were mostly still green. I returned the next weekend and saw that the trees already shed their precious cargo. The leaves on the ground were still green, or dark brown. The following three days, the weather turned for the worse with freezing temperatures, snow and high winds, which stripped the trees.
To me, it was a year without autumn, the year I didn’t see a single tree in its autumn clothing.
As a traveller I saw places where the trees always stay green, or where the trees don’t even exist, barren places devoid of any vegetation. In south-east Asia, I had a conversation about the Japanese cherry trees, and the overall experience of seeing them in blossom. At one point my interlocutor told me that there are some other trees, more spectacular and weird : “colour changing trees”. This really sounded interesting, and as he was giving me more and more details I realized that he was referring to the deciduous forests during Autumn or Fall. I felt stupid for not recognizing this phenomenon sooner because I was too much in search of greatness, extraordinary beauty in exotic places, not thinking about the beauties at home.
Where was the closest place I could see the Fall?
How many people never saw it with their own eyes?
Map of Earth’s climate zones (temperate zones are green). © Wikimedia Commons
What factors have a say in the colour richness?
Why can we notice some years a spectacular foliage, while some years the autumn remains nearly unremarkable?
Does the global warming and climate change mean that we are in danger for losing this majestic event?
So I armed myself with patience and asled my good friend Mr. Google, about all my fears and curiosities.
He understood my concerns and explained how the trees prepare themselves and transport the nutrients from the blades to the branches, trunk and root to be stored for the winter.
This determines the leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, the pigment that give plant the green colour. In this chemical process, other pigments appear and absorb sun radiation. One of them is carotene, found also in carrots, and is responsible for the intense yellow, orange and red-orange colour. Responsible for the dark red, burgundy and purple colour is the pigment anthocyanin, found also in blueberry, radish and roses. It is secreted by the leaves in late autumn when the temperatures are lower.
A succession of warm sunny days followed by cool nights (with temperatures between 0 and 7,5 degrees C) determines the most spectacular transformation. During the day high amounts of glucose are produced, which cannot “escape” because the veins of the leaves contract during the night. This stimulates the production of carotene and anthocyanin.
The colours begin to fade as winter approaches and the leaves hang on only by the veins carrying water and nutrients. This is the time when any soft breeze can send them to the ground, where the pigments last only a few days. After that they follow the same fate, turning rusty-brown, and wait to decompose and return the nutrients into the soil, spawning the new foliage in spring.
Now I’m writing this to you, who never walked on a carpet of leaves inside a forest when the colours have “changed”, but also for you who are crying over the summer days, fearing the cold, long winter nights, or you, feeling impatient, waiting for the rain to turn to snow, dreaming of endless glides in fresh powder.
I’m writing about a time of joy, when I can jump in huge piles of leaves, fight wars – a preparation for the snowball fight to come, when I drive endlessly on curvy roads through forests, when I wake up early to lose myself in the morning fog, only to be glad when the sun disperses this cover and reveals a landscape at its best, a land of ripeness and richness. A time of long walks, or bike rides, but by all means accompanied by the sound of crushing blades under my feet of bike tires.
But it’s also a moment of introspection, melancholy, a time to sit by the window with a hot tea or coffee, watching the rain and the hundreds of yellow leaves departing with every wind blow, and thinking about what an extraordinary journey and story the blades have. The Danish have a word for this mood, Hygge (Pronounced "hoo-ga"), which I bet was invented on an autumn day :-)
It’s a good time to read, or maybe write a book; perhaps settle the accounts with the past months and making plans for the coming ones.
It’s also a mood, a special vibe that we can tune to regardless of our photographic style …
Enjoy this wonderful gallery of images by 1x members.
May be it will inspire you to go out and capture yourself all that greatness.
'Autumn lake' by Daniel Řeřicha