It’s not exactly a pilgrimage or healing quest. But every fall it seems I am driven by spirit to return to the vineyards. My favorite time is post harvesting. In August and September the grape clusters disappear from the vines row by row, field by field. By the end of October the harvest is finished. The smell of the grape crush is already gone, replaced by the crisp fall air.
As the evenings become cooler, the flow of chlorophyll to the grape leaves is cut off, removing the green in their veins. The leaves themselves are now looking like harvest symbols, showcasing their previously hidden golden and rusty-red regalia. Thankfully, there are always a few clumps of grapes that escape the harvesters’ knives. They are the ones that become so picturesquely embraced by the multihued foliage. It is true – the last are not necessarily the least!
G. R. A. P. E. S. for creating stunning art on the vines. G Is for getting in close. Fill your frame with your subject. R is for reflection. Use your gold or silver reflectors to bounce beautiful golden or cool light (silver reflector) onto your subject. A is for aperture. Wide open gives you a shallow depth-of-field which provides selective focus. In contrast, F16 brings your entire subject and much of the background into focus.
P is for polarize. Take that glare off your leaves and then shoot at a 90° angle or thereabouts to the sun — your sky will become a rich, deep blue. E is for exposure – compensating for the dark, almost black color of the grapes in the fall. (Try some double or multiple exposures if you are able; you will see extra colors jumping off your subject.) Last, but not least, S is for spritzing. While the morning fog might leave a little moisture on your subject, you can also add the drama of water drops where you want it with your handy spray bottle.
Although not included in G.R.A.P.E.S., you will want to remember your tripod. I even use it in bright light when a slow shutter speed is not required. I want to fine-tune my compositions, and using a tripod slows me down and allows me time to consider where I wish to place my subject in the photograph.
You can use the acronym G.R.A.P.E.S for viewing life in general or the specifics that you see along the way. Harvest time is a good time to get in close and see what it is we are truly thankful for. We can reflect our own personal light back on our life to bring forth our gratitude… and by all means let’s spritz the things and people around us with the joy that comes from deep within.
To see more examples of what can be photographed in the vineyards, please browse my portfolio on this website, “Art on the Vine.”
After a decade of photographing vineyard harvest details, you might want to tell me that it is time to find new fall subjects. But each year I seem more determined than the year before to see the grapes from a new angle, in a different light, working toward a fresh composition that just might surprise both me and those who view my work! Perhaps this is a pilgrimage or healing quest after all.