Saturday, October 18, 2014

Just Look Around

The Virginia creeper vines always look so amazing at this time of year. (Do people in England call this Virginia creeper, or is that an American thing? I'll have to ask someone.) We're having some nice leaf color all around: the red sumac, the brittle yellow-brown chestnuts, the brightly variegated ornamental pears.

Every time I post fall leaves, I laugh inwardly, remembering that post I did years ago with leaf photos that looked so pathetic -- and my brother making fun of me. "Sort of a sad little assortment, Stephen," he wrote. And they were, partly because back then I didn't know anything about adjusting the color in my photos -- so they were washed out by my point-and-shoot camera.

Yesterday I felt sort of cranky at work. Maybe because it was Friday, and I was tired, or maybe I was a bit bored -- which is inexcusable, really, because if you're alive in this world there's no reason at all to ever be bored. Just look around! I should remember to do just that, and breathe a bit, and absorb the moment. Be more open, more gentle, more mindful. I haven't done any photography this week -- I've been taking a break -- but maybe not seeing with my photographic eye has actually deprived me of that benefit of really seeing. You know?

Oh well. I did get to finish Frankenstein, at least.

I also read a fascinating article in The New York Times magazine about women's colleges and their struggle to deal with transgender students. If the raison d'etre for women's colleges is to educate and create a safe learning space exclusively for women, what happens when one of those women decides to live as a man? Turns out that some women's colleges have embraced those students, on the grounds that they are still a gender minority and subject to discrimination, but not everyone is happy about it -- and it has put a strain on the traditional terminology used at some institutions, like references to "sisterhood." Apparently some schools have been less welcoming to students born male who now live as women, perhaps for reasons alluded to in that New Yorker article I mentioned a little more than a month ago. The modern gender spectrum and the social questions it presents continue to intrigue me.

(Photos: Top and bottom, Stanmore, North London, Oct. 3. Middle, Northwood, northwest London, last Sunday.)


  1. I haven't read that article yet but will. It's funny to me how we continue to put labels on people and then stick them in boxes so that we can "understand" who they are.
    We're going to have to get beyond that sort of thing.
    Or at least try.
    We are in the early days of that struggle.
    Those shots are amazing!

  2. I clicked on your old "leaf" post and giggled a bit, too -- particularly at your brother's short and concise comment! Your photos in these last few years are really incredible, Steve -- and while our cameras are more sophisticated, I believe your eye is powerfully evolved. I learn something every time I come here -- and am soothed or inspired or humbled by what you see and shoot.

  3. Ms Moon: I thought of you when I was reading it -- I think you'll find it interesting. The boxes and labels are going away. It's just taking time!

    Elizabeth: Thanks so much for those kind words. I'm so glad you get something out of your visits here, and I love that I'm helping you see new things out in LA, as you've written before. I think I was actually moody this week because I hadn't been shooting. I have to do it every single day. It just helps me process the beauty of the world. :) As for my brother, he's always been good with "zingers."

  4. I need to check the article out; gender is my field of study. Thanks for posting this.

  5. I'm never happy with the color of the leaves in my iPhone pictures (duh - it's not the least bit the same as our good camera) - I play with the color with software, but it's still not very satisfactory. These pictures are great - & I agree with Elizabeth about your mad photo skillz :)

    It's interesting that you take such note of days where you aren't exactly happy. Most people are the opposite - those kinds of days are the norm & a happy day is the exception. I like that about you!