It was a warm, fall day when the class gathered in the parking lot at the Finch Arboretum. The trees stood tall around me, well worn paths at my feet. Dense clouds and blue skies danced around my heads. One minute, bright highlights and sharp shadows filled my viewfinder. The next, flat, featureless light took the texture of the trees away. A slight breeze would intermittently give life and motion to the leaves with a whisper and a rustle. I tried pushing creative boundaries, trying new techniques, and pointing out views that may have been missed.
Brilliant reds and oranges had just started to make their way into the landscape, still dominated by shades of green. The occasional crimson leaf that had fallen from its perch stood out like stars in the night among the blades of grass. This alone created a nearly infinite combination of potential images. I almost got lost in the details, focusing on the minutia and not seeing the forrest for the trees, literally. I needed to force myself to see the bigger picture to ensure I created images that presented my creative vision.
The human element seemed almost a rare sighting throughout the afternoon. The greatest concentration was of a high school cross-country running team, and the odd visitor getting lost in reflection. The few families that were there when we arrived had seemed to dissipate as the afternoon wore on, most likely heading home in time to prepare for dinner. Arriving at a small waterfall, I spent quite some time capturing longer duration images of the waterfall. I played with the light, changing shutter speeds to both freeze and capture motion. I then rested for several moments, sitting and drinking in my surroundings, looking for inspiration for unique perspectives. By this time I felt truly alone in my adventure, not seeing anyone else until returning to the parking lot.
This was when I felt truly connected to nature. This is what the Finch Arboretum was created for: A place for people to become one with nature, to learn more about the trees, flowers, and plants that surround us everywhere we go. I tapped into this feeling and tried to capture the expanse and diversity of my environment. I let go of concentrating on my camera and settings, and tried to live and create in the moment. I watched what the clouds were doing and how the shadows the created drifted through the landscape. I felt the direction of the occasional zephyr and how the leaves would dance. The bees would hop from flower to flower gathering nectar before the cooler temperatures of fall would cause the flowers to die away.
For me, it was a fitting end to a fruitful afternoon of hard work and creative challenges. In the fading light, I left the trees to stand vigil over the paths traversed throughout the day. Perhaps I learned a little bit about myself, some of our inner light revealed in the images I create, all thanks to walking through nature with a camera.