Friday, November 22, 2013

Autumn in London

click photo to enlarge
When I engaged in paid, daily work I always regretted that I didn't have the time to watch the seasons change in the way that I knew they did - slowly and incrementally. The transition from autumn to winter involves not only a peaks and troughs decline in the temperature, but a change in the light from blue-white to yellow tinged as the sun moves closer to the horizon. The autumnal tints of the trees and the drifts of leaves against walls and kerbs were easy to see. Less visible was the subtle colours of individual species - the red-orange of the cherries, the yellow of the limes and field maples, and the lingering green of the willow.

When I lived in a city such changes were masked by the prevalence of concrete, brick, tarmac and grass. Yes, there were trees, parks and gardens, but the daily grind meant that often you could pay little attention to seasonal metamorphosis. Before you knew it the end of August had turned to November and you had only a vague notion of how the transformation had been achieved. The pace of modern life means that we rarely have the time to stop, stand, stare and fully appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons.

The other day I took a couple of "autumn" shots in London. The first was of the tower and spire of St Mary's church at Rotherhithe. The current building, completed in 1716, replaced a church of the twelfth century. As I walked along the cobbles of the adjacent road I looked up through the yellows, browns and greens of the trees and took a photograph that, when I viewed it on the camera screen, looked like it could have been taken in a small town, a village or the open countryside almost anywhere in England. The presence of a churchyard with its old trees was enough to turn autumn in the city into a more universal view of the season. That couldn't be said of the second photograph of what looks like a red oak near the glass curtain wall of some offices near the centre of the city. Here a grid of man-made, regular, modernity contrasts strongly with the irregularity of the branches and leaves of the specimen trees tat are dotted among the gleaming towers. The contrast of of the two photographs taken only a couple of miles apart in the capital city couldn't be greater, and yet I think both say something about autumn in the city.

photographs and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 19.3mm (52mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On