In a recent conversation with my daughter Megan about the autumn foliage she had remarked that I should have plenty of opportunity to see this along the riverside in Durham, for in the days when she came to school here, she often noticed the trees as she crossed the river at Elvet.
My route in and out of the city rarely takes me here though so it seemed unlikely that I’d be there with camera in hand at the right moment when the leaves were sufficiently transformed, but before the autumn winds had plucked them from branch and twig. As I was working from home today I felt virtuous enough to have a short burst of exercise before I began and so took a short cycle ride to the very spot that she had recommended and to be honest I was a little disappointed. The light wasn’t right and whilst there was plenty of turning foliage it still seemed all too green, and whilst I took a couple of shots up and downstream from one of the numerous boat houses I didn’t really have much hope of finding anything useful.
I had already stowed my camera away and was remounting my trusty steed when I glimpsed a brace of clouds above me each bearing the slightest brush stroke of a dusty pink. Nice, but not enough to make a decent image from, but then I looked down again at the waters which had donned similar raiment in tribute to their celestial neighbours.
By the time I resumed position by the water the pink had already taken on a more golden hue, but none the matter. Deliberately underexposing to maximise colours and silhouettes I fired away until I thought I had sufficient. I resumed my journey until I met an old friend given interest by the low lighting. Much better than my torchlit plans would ever have produced.
Turning away from the beast and suddenly the green leaves around me had taken on a different colour altogether. The rising sun was bathing everything in beautiful soft golden light that accentuated every yellow pigment in the trees and in the masonry of Durham’s magnificent Norman heritage which rose above them.
It was a perfect morning which unsurprisingly filled my head with an old jazz standard…
Softly as in a morning sunrise
The light of love comes stealing
Into a newborn day
Softly As In A Morning Sunrise – lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II