Anne Notations

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Take it with you

Experience or record? Absorb or capture? I'm often torn.

Since age 10 I've been involved one way or another in reporting for print and Web. The impulse to save an event or a moment in writing and pictures runs strong in my psyche.

Gorgeous sunset developing? Quick, run inside for the camera. (It has become a family joke.) My impulse to capture each and every one of the amazing sky-shows last fall became a habit – and the genesis for my photo blog, Splendor in the Sky.

Alternatively: How about I just watch the sunset? Ouch. It goes against my nature.

Thus, I simply had to run down to the beach this evening in a -10F windchill to get some shots like the one above. (Note that you may click on any photograph here and see it larger and in more detail.)

Is a sight or an experience more valuable for being recorded? Of course not. It's good to maintain a healthy balance between simply experiencing and capturing. But an image captured is an image you can go back to and enjoy. Why else would we all cherish family photo albums and home movies?

This fall brought some beautiful foliage to Providence, where I work. One day a few weeks ago I brought my camera with me and spent my lunch hour wandering around Thayer Street, Charlesfield Street, and the courtyard garden behind my building on the Brown campus. These are places I walk every working day, and I always enjoy what I see. But finally, simply looking and absorbing wasn't enough. I had to capture the sights digitally. As always, I am most happy when I can share them with my friends.

This vivid red sugar maple was planted several years ago in front of the Watson Institute for International Studies. It's one of a row of sibling trees that march down the sidewalk on Thayer Street. (see below)

The sugar maples contrasted vividly with the green leaves of a taller elm that hadn't yet changed color.

Look down, underneath the red maples, and there is a piquant arrangement of leaves on cobblestones.

Just around the corner on Charlesfield Street, the bricks and windows of a student dormitory and its surrounding iron fence form another interesting grid.

Behind my office building, the leaves of this enormous tree are a crimson canopy overhead.

The soaring trunks are impressive.

In the past few weeks, all the trees shown here have dropped their leaves and now stand bare. This is what drives me to photograph and describe what I see: the ephemeral quality of nature … of life. I want to hang on to every beautiful thing, hold it close, and never let go.


  • And I am so grateful you capture these moments I'd never see otherwise.

    All our leaves blew down on one cold weekend, it was like summer gave autumn a miss and went straight into winter. *sniffle*

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Mon Nov 24, 04:50:00 PM EST  

  • I really like the one of leaves on stone. I strugle a lot with the issue of absorbing versus recording. Also with how deply to absorb. I tend to experience things sooo strongly and then remember them strongly. I sometimes say this is a blessing and a curse. Someone recently told me they think it's only a curse. Anyway - lovely pictures.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Sat Nov 29, 08:59:00 PM EST  

  • The photo of Wriston Quad (on Charlesfield) not only has the wonderful, structured patterns of the brick/mortar, fence, windows, bars on the window, but is overlaid with the natural pattern of the tree's shadow.

    I love it and it reminded me of where I am from.

    I am behind in blog reading, and note that later you talk about seasons, I have now moved to a place (New Orleans) which only has two: summer and not-summer. It is mid January, and there are leaves on most of the city trees (many of the "bayou trees" along the highway are either more deciduous or lost them in Gustav and Ike). Cold for the natives here is 50 -- above zero! It is a different view of nature and the world.

    By Blogger Michael A. Golrick, at Thu Jan 15, 11:07:00 AM EST  

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