Parker and Morrison Halls

Today’s Photo Friday theme is Autumn, and I actually had to fish through last month’s unused photos to find a few images to share. Autumn is probably New England’s prettiest season–it is, at least, the season when many tourists come to leaf-peep–and for the past month or so, I’m up to my ankles in Autumn whenever I walk outside. So why the relative paucity of appropriately autumnal shots?

Veterans' Memorial with fall foliage

It’s not like I don’t snap the occasional leaf-peeperish picture: I do, after all, have a Flickr photo tag dedicated to autumn. But when I try to think of an outstanding or even quintessential autumnal shot, I’m hard pressed to think of any I’ve taken. When I think of autumn shots, I think of the kind of conventionally pretty pictures you see in travel brochures and glossy picture books: the kind of images I’ve previously referred to as money shots. It’s not that I don’t traffic in the kind of perfectly pretty pictures I sometimes refer to as “nature porn” for their glamorization of a narrow, unrealistic ideal of desirable beauty: two years after posting that “money shot” of Mount Monadnock in her autumn splendor, I blogged a nearly identical picture along with a rehash of the usual church spire with fall foliage theme. But most of the time these days, it seems I snap photos that are interesting, unusual, or quirky: not the usual pretty scenes, but the kind of things that are just plain ordinary, at least until you look at them more closely.

Science Center with autumn trees and bikes

What I traffic in these days are corners, shadows, and slants. Instead of shooting an entire pretty landscape, I tend to slice things, visually, into their component parts. Why shoot an entire landscape of leaves when you can capture one leaf? Why photograph an actual tree when a tree’s shadow is equally if not more interesting? And why show something straight-on if you can shoot it askance? All of these images are “autumnal,” but they’re more quirky than quintessential. Unlike true nature porn, they contain clues of culture, with evidence of houses, roads, and fences remaining like un-retouched blemishes. This isn’t Autumn as it transpires in some ideal sense, far away from the impress of humanity. This is autumn as it happens in ordinary life, warts and all.

Morrison Hall