August in Michigan means hot days, cooler mornings, and a slow dive into autumn.
For me, it’s always the seasonal transitions that are the most fun to photograph. Summer is nice, sure, but the end of summer always holds something special.
Same for when spring (my favorite) comes, and the fog rolls in as the snow melts. Or when winter starts frosting the yet-to-fall leaves.
This time of year is always hard for me emotionally, for some reason. I don’t know if it’s because Winter Is Coming™, or the days are shortening, or what. But I get to feeling down. The last few years, I’ve tried to work my way out of the funk with a few photo projects and writing more.
We all knew, years in advance, that this day was coming. Our attention spans are short, so we only really started preparing – with the glasses and the filters and our lunch plans – earlier this summer.
So we took the kids, the grandparents, our fellow students, our co-workers, and we all went outside for a bit this afternoon. Novelty glasses in hand, we looked up, and we saw our sky change.
We watched young and old, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, natural born and immigrant go out into the fading sunlight and watch and wonder. See how the light changes? See how the shadows shift their shape? See that funny cardboard contraption the astronomy students are wearing on their heads?
See how everyone, regardless of background, came outside and shared an experience?
Astronomers have our solar system down pat. They know where the sun and moon and Earth will be in relation to each other from now until Rapture. Barring an unexpected astroid, the future is predictable, thanks to models and observation.
We Americans think we know better. Sure, we show up at an appointed time expecting a celestial show. But when it does happen, we don’t think that makes the scientific method any more reliable. We question and we “fake news” everything, still, even when the heavens dance around us, as predicted.
We rarely get the larger message – in plain view there in the sky, in front of our own filtered eyes – just as we rarely think about eclipses a decade down the road.
We don’t have to “believe” in the eclipse; it happens with or without us. We don’t get that message, either.
Point being, don’t just leave it to photographers and film-makers – you can find inspiration anywhere. The more you take from that well of inspiration, the more you shoot what pleases and moves you in that odd little way, then the more your work begins to acquire a character and coherency of its own.
Absorb and adapt. Keep reading, keep looking, keep making it your own.
It’s been a perfect summer, weather-wise. We had a week or two where the temperatures reached into the 90s, but mostly it’s been high 70s to mid 80s. Late May, all summer long? I’ll take it.
That means we’ve spent a lot of time outside, playing in our new yard, planting our new garden, walking up and down our new street. We have great neighbors. We love our new neighborhood.
There are parts of me that miss living out in the country. My commute is not nearly as fun, photographically and spiritually, as it used to be. It’s all intersections and highway these days. I miss the quiet, and the trees. But then an airplane flies over our house every few hours, and the kids look up to watch it pass overhead, and it becomes one of those neat little things that make the new home so fun.
This summer I’ve worked steadily on the new portrait project. I photograph the kids as they play around the yard. But there haven’t been any photographic adventures – not like there used to be. There are only so many hours in the day, and photography’s slice of the pie is getting smaller and smaller.
That’s okay. My camera’s always ready when I need it to be. Like these late summer evenings when I can’t resist heading out to the front porch and watching the sun set.