March 30 was National Take a Walk in the Park Day. Yes, really. You don’t have to ask me twice to do that. Golden Gate Park is awash in flowers after our winter rains, but my two favorite takeaways from a morning walk were images of leaves. Here they are, maple leaves from the AIDS Memorial Grove, and as-yet-unidentified large leaves found near the Lily Pond.
Frequent walkers in the SF Botanical Garden know it well: A bend in the path, just past the Dwarf Conifer Pond, heading to the California Native Garden. The light sneaks through there at a couple of times each day, fog willing, to illuminate the apulca pine in the Mesoamerican cloud forest. Rounded clumps of needles capture that light as they hang over the path. They seem to cry out, “Look at me! Look at me!” Sometimes they augment their beauty with water droplets from fog or morning sprinklers.
I’ve photographed this edge of pine many times. But while the images recall that magical light for me, I have felt that they stubbornly resist yielding their essence to someone coming to them without having seen the spot for themselves. I look as objectively as I can and think: “Oh, hmm, pretty.”
On a couple of recent walk-bys, I thus decided to forego capturing the overall scene and instead go in close, with very shallow focus on the sunlit needles. That was a start, yielding some images that were spikey and colorful and abstract. And then, finally, I introduced … complications. Specifically, intentional blur, experimenting every which way, and when done, cropping every which way. Below is one of the results.