San Francisco has seen a lot of early blooms this fall, although, it might be fair to ask, “early” from whose perspective? Perhaps the flowers think they’re blooming just on time. Here are two takes on a black-bearded sugarbush seen on Thanksgiving Day (November 24) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
Golden Gate Park is full of what used to be called “E-ticket” attractions — a reference to Disneyland’s old pricing structure. On the way to the deYoung Museum or the Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden or the Botanical Garden, the casual visitor will speed past acres of paths and (admittedly created) woodlands — just as, driving cross-country to Walt’s Wonderful World in Anaheim, it was easy to speed past roadside stands selling apple cider, local handicrafts, or a peek at a two-headed snake.
One October morning, having just photographed the always-gorgeous Dahlia Garden nestled next to the superstar Conservatory of Flowers, I headed out to JFK Drive along an access road. And there, I encountered a small copse, a “roadside stand” of trees. I liked the angle of filtered light on the row of trees and bushes; it promised nicely textured “middle tones” for a black-and-white piece. Once the trees had posed for that portrait, they invited me to come in among them. Reader, I never say no to trees. There was a rough used path and a hint of clearing on the other side. In I went. I crouched down to try to capture the leaning, peeling, helter-skelter trunks and twigs that swam (flailed?) in a sea of delicate underbrush.
As I finished up there, I found myself facing the morning’s first real sun as it burned away the fog. I turned around and saw soft warm light on the scene behind me. It wasn’t soft for long. I did what I could with it. The right light loves anything it touches, even a humble, aging roadside stand.