Wednesday morning, 7am, the magnolia tree’s leaves are glowing a warm yellow with accents of green. Unfortunately, the air is warm too, and the leaves lose a little of their magic, unaccompanied as they are by the cool pinch of an autumn wind. I put my trusty brown cardigan in my car nonetheless, willing a cold front. Junior is raking leaves across the street and agrees to rake mine next.
Seven am today and we’re still stuck in the doldrums of 70-80 degree weather in October. Work is muggy and stifling; the brown cardigan comes off as I teach, no matter how nice it looks with that nice paisley tie. But then a change. Leaving work the leaves are being tornadoed in the courtyard, then rush towards me like a tributary, like wild maenads in an autumnal dance. It is times like these that I wish I were as adept with a video camera as with my first generation Canon 5D. I want to capture motion as well as color and light and compositions. I contemplate my attempts in the past and blanch at the thought of shooting and editing it would take to get what I want. The temperature is 20 degrees cooler, and when I come home it becomes evident that the wind has visited here, too. The magnolia has experienced a sea change with the amount of leaves it has lost in a day. The buds which will bear through the winter and blossom in spring are now clearly visible. I nestle in my cardigan and smile.
I always love driving up Olive Boulevard from downtown St. Louis over its wide tarmac, ribboning up and down undulating hills, and watching the spire of St. Francis Xavier College Church peak over the horizon with a huge sky above it and then seeing it slowly begin to fill the scene. And, if I have my camera along, I am more than likely to take a picture at the corner of Grand and Lindell–a no-look shot with the camera angled up and stabilized against the open window. Here is one and an earlier one from a different angle and in snow.
Here is the keeper image from today.
I was rather lucky to capture the lens flare when I realized the settings I had on the camera were all wrong for the light and quickly switched the camera to Program and let it pick the settings–there is only so much time at a light, you know The shot below is a one I salvaged from all of the highly overexposed images which preceded the keeper and to which I applied the Cyanotype preset in Lightroom 3.
A friend of mine argued with me that the lovely tree in front of my house was not a magnolia, as I have been naming it in recent posts, but rather a tulip tree. Upon consulting another friend who actually works for the Missouri Botanical Gardens, he said it is indeed a variety of magnolia, but not the classic, white Southern magnolia, which incidentally keeps it waxy leaves year round. My best guess is that this tree is a Magnolia liliiflora. Looking at it coming home tonight, even more of its blossoms had cracked open. Did this poor tree have any idea when I moved in that it was to have its own personal paparazzo who would photograph its every mood.
This was taken in the early morning and I have added a lomo effect.
A very closely related image to this one appears here in the second image, though the church is a different one.
I drive by this house and I am drawn to take its picture. You will have come to this blog and you will be compelled to “Like” this post. And I do not mean to say that as a sort Jedi mind trick, as in “You will like this post.” But sometimes I am perplexed by own fascination with such scenes.
Despite having what I feel is a laudable desire in myself to find beauty in broken things, some of my appeal for such images is culturally conditioned, I am sure, and perhaps is a byproduct or even a luxury from living in relative affluence. Do people who may have to live in such places, or other types of squalor, feel any sort of artistic draw to them, except perhaps for a nostalgic or reflective aesthetic draw later when they have escaped from them? Paging Dr. Maslow…
I once had a friend who was bi-polar and so suffered from a fair amount of ruin and fracture in his own person. He was also from another culture which seemed to give him less of a tolerance for things not overtly beautiful being set up as art (the discussion of culture and beauty and art will have to wait for another time). He would look at my some of my pictures of urban ruins and broken glass and say that they made him feel bad.
I am not sure what to make of my own ramblings here or if I have found a satisfactory place for them to land. In the meantime, enjoy (?) these two shots of a ruined house in my neighborhood. The color palettes are slightly different in each of these images, though both are rather stylized in the lomo style.
I am very eager to see the inside of the newly renovated Peabody Opera House as it appears to have very elegant interior. In the meantime, I will continue to content myself with the iconic bears outside.