Often when I am on one of my photography walks I am struck by a sense of adventure. The strange purpose of going around looking for photographs, the weird thrills of finding both expected and unexpected things to photograph, and the rare successes that feel like magic give me a heightened sense, an adventure novel's sense of what is really just a short walk around my neighborhood.
Maybe I've always felt a little bit like this about any walks I've taken. This blog is full of little stories straight from the past seven or eight year of walks, but now, with my camera, and without destination, the whole idea of it is exaggerated and feels both more real and more fictional. And regularly at the end of those photo walks I feel an impulse to write about it here.
But I don't.
I mean, until today.
These adventures aren't necessarily good stories. And though they might work as a kind of photojournalism, the pictures that might work for that kind of essay aren't the ones that most interest me to take. But the other day I decided to try anyway. I had a more open period of time for my walk. I figured I could go down to the river and try and take a wider collection of photographs, ones that might still lean heavily into the detail I favor, and that will still drift off towards abstractions at the least opportunity, and that still don't tell a story, but ones that might nevertheless be comprehensive enough to give a sense of what it feels like, what this walk of discovery looks like.
So without too much more comment ahead of time here is my trail of photographs in the basic order they happened. The only minor omission is from a few leaf pictures that recently appeared on this blog and so I am loathe to show them again.
And one last caveat:
I take a lot of pictures and usually manage to limit myself to posting my favorite ones here- say my 4 star pictures with a few three star ones as well. (I sometimes wish I limited it more since worse pictures seem to take something away from the better ones.) But the nature of today's walk means a lot more two and three star pictures than you'll be used to seeing. I'll just have to live with opening up that door...
So to temper your expectations from the start of just how particular some of these pictures might be, we start with the chickens. Some of our neighbors, on my way to the river, have chickens. They are behind a fence and I only rarely see them. Last time I did they were strange, fuzzy, giant chicks. Now they are resplendent chickens (mostly, you'll see).
I took these pictures through a wood slat fence. The chickens were not shy thus I could get close enough for these details of their feathers.
And their beautiful eyes and strange, dramatic faces.
And I guess this one is still a chick, sort of? Yes, somewhere in there is a chicken, or maybe an 80's heavy metal rocker! Follow the beak.
When I got down to the river, but before ducking off the more popular road and bike paths, I came across an old tape deck that appeared to have been hurled out of someone's car window. It gave me a touch of 80's/90's nostalgia. I did what any sensible person would do: I took a few random close-ups of it.
And then I ducked down into the wood and the river paths.
Here is the river that always seems to look better in person.
I try to give a sense for it in a different color key below. Both pictures are curiously true enough to the look of it in late Summer, despite all their differences.
All Summer I have been seeing a grasshopper with pretty wings that only open when it sort of flies. It is hopeless for me to photograph it as it is relatively shy and too quick for me. Nevertheless this was a small triumph to get a picture, out on the dirt path at the top of the river bluffs, of the grasshopper itself, even if there are no wings to see and only a hint of the color within.
And then we come to the creek that I followed back up into St. Paul, away from the river. I have taken many unsuccessful pictures of the creek this summer. The water is very clear and comes up out of the ground two thirds up the ravine that is ducked below the busy city. The river bed is all mud and stone.
I do best at this point to bring color in through the reflections in the water.
This looks a little radioactive to me, or fake?, but it really is just reflections of an intensely green forest canopy above.
A little moss sometimes seems like the only thing growing in or near the creek. Maybe the creek is radioactive after all.
More reflections. Okay, I'll admit I maybe turned up the color saturation on this a bit more than is... proper. But other than that it is just leaves reflected in a pool in the stream.
A fallen tree is the usual way to cross the stream back and forth, as I am wont to do with abandon.
Lots of trees around.
So on this walk I did collect quite a few leaves and would sometimes sit on a log taking pictures of them with a light panel I have. I think these two pictures didn't show up on my recent leaf post so we have examples.
This is what the path looks like (and maybe where I sat for the above pictures).
Here is where the path rises out of the dark woods into the blinding light of the neighborhood above.
At this point I'm on my way home and thinking about turning off my camera and putting the lens cap on, but the curious way this tree spilled onto a concrete wall caught my attention.
And as I was almost done in the last alley, I heard a blue jay. I've never gotten a proper picture of one and didn't feel a lot of hope when I poked my head into a copse of evergreen shrubs and trees. This jay, with enormous attitude, was surprisingly tolerant of my photographing, and though not beautiful exactly (the deep shade didn't help), it was full of personality.
And with that the ring of power was delivered to the cracks of doom in Mordor.
So I went home.
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