Walking by a wood one afternoon in mid March I came across this remnant from Halloween. All orange and smiling at me, I smiled back.
The wood is barren and could be misconstrued for fall, but tufts of green and a thin haze of spring tell differently.
It has been six years since I took this photo while walking on the Monon Trail. At first I thought it was a remnant of the railway system, a pole with planks nailed to it so workers could fix whatever is at the top of a pole on a railway system. But as I look at it, that appears to be a tree, not a pole. Now I imagine kids hammering planks into the tree so they could climb to the top. But what is at the top? I don’t remember! And because I don’t remember, I can’t fully explain what this means. But it sure looks like fun!
A little bit about the Monon Trail: The Monon Trail used to be the Monon Railroad. The portion of the railroad that extended into Indianapolis was deserted and eventually found its way into the Rails-to-Trails movement. The trail length is approximately 18 miles.
I looked at the forest, barren and repetitive, and raised the camera to my eye. Stark brown trunks rose to the sky, contrasting beautifully against the clouds. I captured a number of shots, each one unfolding a surreal blue landscape, not the repetitive brown landscape I saw. Where did the blue come from? Why did my camera present me with weirdly-colored trees in a landscape that I saw as bleak brown?
This frustrated and perturbed me. The Canon EOS 30D was new to me. My previous cameras were point-and-shoots (Canon PowerShots of various kinds) so this was my introduction to the DSLR world. What was happening?
I don’t know how long after this photo shoot it took me to figure it out, but I remember thinking about a photography class I had taken at the Indianapolis Art Center a couple of years prior. I had just received a Canon PowerShot S2 IS with manual controls for Christmas. I wanted to learn as much as I could on how to use the controls so I signed up for a beginning photography class. I was the only one with a point-and-shoot but I soaked it all in. I learned about white balance and Kelvin color space and many other things. My point-and-shoot had white balance presets so I played around a little with the various settings and got a fairly decent understanding of white balance. Eventually, though, I left it on auto white balance (AWB) and then promptly forgot about it. AWB served me well. But I never really got that whole Kelvin thing.
With a more advanced camera, though, there I was, looking at a blue forest and wondering what I was doing wrong. Later, I remembered the whole white balance lesson. I looked at my camera and noticed it was set to “K”. Haha! So I changed that setting to AWB and that made everything return to normal. Much later, when I was reading about my camera, I noticed my color space setting was set to 2800. That accounted for the blueness when the white balance was set to “K”. So, mystery solved!
Now, five years later, I look at this unnatural world I captured using a cold setting. No longer frustrated, I am intrigued by the mystery. What would it be like to wander through a blue forest in a blue world during the blue hour of twilight?
I wander lost in thought along a trail in a cold, leafless wood when I’m caught by the glistening snow of this frozen side path. The snow slowly melts around the edges, dampening the clotted leaves around and under it. I could almost hear the crunch of the upper crust as I mentally trudge down it to see what lies beyond the bright woods ahead. In spite of the intrigue, though, I don’t follow this snowy path on this cold day. My journey is elsewhere.
Paths are journeys waiting to happen. I look into the distance and wonder what is around the bend. Is this a journey I want to take? Is this a mystery I want to uncover? I have a fascination with paths because of the unknown, the mystery, the possibility that exists at its end. But I also love paths because of the journey itself. And some paths are not meant to be taken. This path is one of those.
(I do love paths and roads. I have a Flickr set devoted to it. Please check it out: “Pathways, Roads, and Just Around the Bend.”