Green on Green In Black and White

It is now the time of year when I enter both temperamental and photographic aestivation: that state of hot-weather torpor  typical of some terrestrial turtles. When conditions become too extreme for them to be in the presence of other turtles and remain civil; when they grow peevish and irritable with the humidity and the heat, they bury themselves in mud until things cool down and the sky opens up again, come fall.

I look over my photo archives going back 14 years to the beginning of my digital lens-life. From the weight of my archives month by year, during the summer months, you’d think I’d been put into cryogenic storage: few images can be found at all, while albums from spring and autumn on either side of the longest days, the green-on-greenest days, are full.

I’ve said it here before: I give up the ghost in hot weather. All pretense at ambition is cast off; lassitude rules. The drive to do any given thing is suppressed by recoil from the possibility of overheating–a thermal state all too easy to achieve for a Bama-bred deep-southerner who never learned to sweat.

But beyond that climate-linked ennui, there is the matter, for this casual but persistent landscape and nature photographer, to be overwhelmed by far too much green and far too much close-in-ness to be called to the outdoors with images in mind. So cameras go idle in the months that do not have an “r” in them.

So it occurs to me on the cusp of my annual aestivation that I should commit, for June through September, and with a few possible exceptions of the season including insects, to shift–when I muster the will to move and press a shutter–to black and white. This will put the emphasis on the form and texture rather than on more green-on-green until autumn comes.

I will aim for one B & W keeper a week. Here’s the first. Click HERE to BiggiFY.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I think you are on to something. It’s like I said about driving the Blue Ridge parkway in summer: BORING!! Allen goes to black and white mostly with historic buildings, but looking for the textures in nature will be a fun challenge for you, you “casual but persistent photographer.”

  2. Never think of it being too hot in summer, except a day or two. But winter, that’s a different story. Too cold and too white for easy photography in Jan. and Feb!