Photosynthesis

We’ve reached that time of year when I generally set off for work in the dark and arrive home again in the dark. Weekdays become artificial days enclosed in artificial light. I occasionally have some pretty hard things to say about November and December, but the truth is I think that I could learn to love this time of year – if I didn’t have to work and could get out in the daylight.

Fortunately, after quite a break from local ‘beating the bounds’ today was bright and clear and I was able to get out for a couple of longish strolls. There was some cloud about, some of this high fretted stuff that I think might be mackerel sky:

And some lower more substantial sausages of cloud, which were more curved on top than below and that for some reason put me in mind of manatees, but perhaps that’s simply because I’ve been remembering our honeymoon visits to Blue Springs State Park in Florida recently and manatees were lurking somewhere in the watery recesses of my mind.

In the morning we went down to the Cove,

then Crossed the Lots, walked up Stankelt Lane and took a turn around Pointer Wood and Sharp’s Lot before heading back across the field. This afternoon we took a convoluted route spiraling around Eaves Wood.

‘We’ was me and baby S in the back-pack

Although he showed his appreciation of the wonders of our surroundings by sleeping through most of both walks:

With my assistant spark out, I was snapping photos with abandon. When were walking in a wood in Galloway recently my Dad said that he had read somewhere that cloudy weather is best for woodland photography. We thought that might be because strong sunshine gives too high a contrast between open and shaded areas of the wood. I must admit that I was quite happy today to settle for ‘inferior’ bright sunshine.

Without that light these hazel leaves wouldn’t have been so beautifully backlit. I tried this same trick a few weeks ago in a downpour and was eventually quite pleased with the results – after fiddling with the exposure, saturation and contrast of the photos. The beech leaves have dried to a crisp brown since then, but with better light I’m content to leave today’s photos unadulterated.

This morning particularly I took lots of pictures of a wide variety of subjects, but it was pictures of leaves which provided the staple. Fallen rowan contrasting against the grass:

A single sycamore leaf stark against a bed of more sober oak leaves:

Or perhaps the oak leaves themselves quicksilvered with water droplets:

It took me a couple of attempts to realise that I had to take the shot from a low angle to achieve the alchemy; seen directly from above the water droplets lose their sheen and become windows onto the leave:

Whilst I was taking these, and many more, photos, it occurred to me that whilst I am fascinated by leaves and their diversity of shapes and colours, I very rarely think about the magic that they perform. Each tree festooned with thousands of solar panels transmuting light into chemical energy, taking carbon dioxide and water and producing sugars and oxygen, the fuels that keep this planet alive. Perhaps at a cellular level my DNA retains a memory of bacterial photosynthesis and this small vegetative element within is what demands a regular dose of proper daylight. I know that I feel restored by my walks today after a tiring week and that I shall spin out other photos and other stories over the course of the week in an attempt to make the feeling last.

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Photosynthesis

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