ISO 400 | 29mm | f 4.0 | 1/500 sec

Fall is a special time of year, full of vibrant color, early morning frosts, and steaming pumpkin spice lattes.  It’s a time of year that some people dread (because it signals the approach of winter or it means that summer vacation is over), while others seem to get great joy out of it (you’d think that they’d never lived before to hear the way they carry on sometimes).  But as with any change of season, there come new challenges and new responsibilities, some of which cannot be ignored.
As most people know, during fall, most deciduous trees tend to shed their leaves (I haven’t met one yet that wasn’t devoid of its foliage come winter time).  What people don’t understand is the extreme hazard that falling leaves creates, especially on our public roadways.  Leaves, or more specifically, wet rotting leaves, cause a severe decrease in vehicular traction by inhibiting complete contact with the pavement (that gooey residue doesn’t help much either).  Sure, there are plenty of people who understand the danger and take the initiative to rake their yards and clean up their driveways, but they miss the key piece in maintaining public safety around the country when they overlook our freeways, highways, roads, drives, and byways all coated in thick layers of dead, decaying greenery (or would you call that brownery?).
While I cannot personally ensure the safety of motorists around the country, I can do my part to clean up my local roads and protect the innocent lives of drivers and their families who may be unaware of the potential dangers caused by letting dead leaves cover our roads.  It’s not any easy job, but somebody has to do it.
In the future I envision being part of a campaign to raise awareness of the hazards of leaving our byways unattended and littered by rotting organic material.  We’ll form a band of citizens across the country who will support our cause and devote themselves towards bettering our streets and protecting the common man.  United we’ll all grab our shovels, rakes, brooms, and leaf blowers and begin the long and arduous process of clearing our public roadways of unnecessary debris and hazardous leafy material.  Ah, what sweet joy that would be.
But for now, it’s just me, and it looks like a big gust of wind just re-coated the last ¼ mile of freshly swept roadway.  Time to get back at it…
I wanted to highlight the oncoming of fall and the beauty of the golden colors that are typical of this time of year.  I got the inspiration for this shot just earlier this week as I was driving home from a meeting in town and noticed the falling leaves that were covering the highway everywhere.  It would have almost been enough for me just to stop and just get a picture of the road and golden leaves right then-and-there, but I couldn’t content myself with that.
I ended up shooting this location Wednesday evening after I got off work.  The sun was getting low in the sky, and the golden hues really enhanced the beauty of the fall colors.  I quick got my gear put together and rushed down to my pre-determined location.  Little did I realize that since I had driven past there last time, the wind had blown most of the leaves off into the ditch on either side of the road, and there lay the road – spotless and bare; not exactly the ideal setting for the shot I was envisioning.
Long story short, if you had happened to drive by during those twenty minutes I was out shooting, you would have seen a fellow running wildly around, grabbing piles of leaves from both sides of the highway and flinging them onto the road, all-the-while watching and listening for any oncoming traffic that might have posed a threat to his camera and tripod that he had setup smack-dab in the middle of the road.  Yeah, it was a little hectic, but it was worth it to get the shot.
Once I had my background shot complete (which is actually a composite of a couple different shots – it took a few to get the falling leaves in the back to look just right), I drove home and finished off my shoot by doing a quick self-portrait with a broom using our driveway and the last fading rays of the sun as it descended below the horizon.  After merging everything in photoshop and doing some color adjustments, I came out with the final result.
This week’s picture was a good reminder to me that photography should be exciting, and not necessarily totally devoid of danger (or at least an element of peril).  While I don’t recommend running around in the middle of the road (much less setting up and leaving your precious camera and tripod on the yellow stripe of the highway), I’m happy for the image I was able to create (and I’m also glad that nobody ran over my precious equipment in the process).  Photography should be an adventure.  Do what you can to make it exciting, and don’t hesitate to go all-out to get your shots.
More to come…

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