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Mists, cobwebs and dragon's breath: autumnity

The last full day of my time here in the Netherlands and it was a joy. We went to Posbank VeluweZoom national park, one of the few places with hills and Netherland's first national park. ( Yes, it was another woodland, and I wondered if I had had my fill of tree photography, but here was such a diverse range of trees and amazing vistas. I was also able to play around with some of the new things that I had learnt.

It was a glorious day, with some welcome blue sky, and the first chill of the season. Very autumnal feel of the cold air on my cheeks and puffs of dragon's breath. A visceral sense that change is on the way.

The low sun provided us with the first treat of the day, as rays shimmered through the mist across a grassy meadow. The stems and seed-heads of the fading summer plants and grasses were silvery white, home to tightly spun sparkling cobwebs.

Walking on into the forest and the sun shining through the lines of trees cast shadows across the beech-leaved floor, with shadows of leaves dancing on the trunks. The moss-covered roots anchored the trees firmly in the banks by the path, images of dragon's feet and crocodile faces emerging. I listened to the tap, tap of a woodpecker working hard high above me. Clearings beyond the tree-lined paths offered places for the next generation to thrive and grow strong with their tiny sprinkling of colourful leaves. Surprised to still see so many bright summer-green leaves on the larger trees, maybe the result of the dry summer.

I challenged myself to capture aspects of this autumnal woodland in monochrome. Counter-intuitive when faced with such a beautiful array of colours. But there was a lot of contrast with the strong lines of the tree trunks, the delicacy of the leaves and the dark shadows reaching across the path.

But I soon reverted to colour, too tempting not to. I just love the way that ICM provides such a variety of possibilities to capture what I see and what I fee deep inside. A joyful shake, a happy wriggle or a gentle glide result in a photographic collage of emotions - and more dancing trees!

And I was reminded that this last woodland walk on this retreat is just another step along the journey of my learning about photography and about myself in this autumnal stage of life. A time of change and adjustment, looking at things anew. An opportunity to prepare for the darker winter days ahead by gathering up these moments of autumn colour and sparkle to draw on until the golds of spring emerge.

"And all the lives we ever lived

and all the lives to be

are full of trees and

changing leaves"

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse.

(Beth Kempton Autumn Light writing sanctuary daily spark

And, finally, heartfelt thanks to Charlotte Bellamy for her words of wisdom as she guided us through the woods and helped us to capture their treasures in new and creative ways, along with gratitude to my companions on this retreat for their friendship, support and encouragement. I wish them ongoing pleasure in their photography.

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