Nature Preserved

This weekend I spent a couple of hours at the nature preserve on the campus where I work, Calvin University. Most of the images you’ll see below are from that walk. The first one, however, is from Friday evening, taken in my neighborhood. The feather-shaped cloud was stunning. It felt like a blessing of sorts over the city at the end of the week and month.

The next morning, walking in the nature preserve, I found some scenes of nature’s beauty, even in the death-like sleep of winter. I find dead leaves, still attached to the tree or on the ground, more beautiful often than living ones. Here are three images of them. One is in color, just for a change of pace.

The next set of images, similarly, is leaves, but the images feel a bit more abstract. Well, at least the first two. The third anthropomorphizes nature. The tree has a face in it–two actually, the second looking to the right, with a mustache and a mouth in a moue. The face looking to the left is more obvious and has a Picasso-like quality to it (or perhaps the face of one of those talking trees in a fantasy story).

The sun was bright and the snow made the morning light even brighter. So I found a lot of images with bright light and deep shadows. Here are several of my favorites. All of them focus on the larger scale–trees, not leaves–whether the trees themselves or their shadows.

Finally, the shape of the land–landscaped–also caught my eye a couple of times. I’m not sure why the first one did. The image doesn’t seem like much. Maybe it isn’t But somehow it holds my attention. I photographed the second scene simply for the lines. The two go together nicely because of the curved lines.

The last image, finally, is more leaves, shot from below looking into branches above and the sky. It feels a bit like abstract expressionism, with the organized chaos of lines and shapes, sharp in the front, blurred behind.

I processed most of the images in monochrome, adding a touch of warmth to many of them. Part of this decision is my recent habit of doing black and white photography. It’s hard to shift back to color, as the color seems distracting. Part of it is the monochrome quality of nature in winter, with shades and tones of brown, black, and gray dominating, except where you find evergreen trees and shrubs.

The weather has been nice for the past week. Lots of sun, for a West Michigan winter, and warm. COVID-19 numbers had been falling for several weeks. This week that trend stopped and there was a small rise, in Michigan and nationally. We’ll have to see if that continues. So my recent salutation still holds. Be vigilant about COVID. Stay warm, and stay safe.

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