Light play in three acts

In some ways being a photographer is like being a parent or a teacher: You need to be aware of activity on the periphery of your vision. Such was the case when I photographed water flowing over leaf-studded rocks at the edge of a nature sanctuary in Natick, Mass.

Across the street, a wooded hill sloped upward toward the east. I noticed a prick of sunlight attempting to pierce the forest. After capturing the right blur of water over the falls, I moved on to the fractal-like patterns of ferns turned fall brown. The whole time I maintained an awareness of the interplay of the ray of sun and the trees, which was going on behind me.

Sensing a breakthrough, I crossed the road to find that the light had landed, causing a couple of small plants to glow. The spotlight lingered there for seconds before the Earth rotated more, and a starfish-like leaf took center stage. The performance was held near a waist-high stone wall, allowing me a chipmunk-level view without having to lie down. The last act before the curtain was pine needles backed by stone scenery; the patches of lichen evoked continents seen from space.

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