Tired of sitting indoors, I decided to go for a walk near the Rock River around 8:00 P.M. on a chilly evening in early November. Because I didn't have my tripod with me, my expectations of capturing anything significant were pretty low. As it turned out, I was right, or so I thought.
As I was heading back to my car, it started to drizzle. While trying to shield my camera from the rain, I noticed leaves falling from the trees. Though it was extremely dark, the light from the Rockford Public Library (which was directly behind me) helped illuminated the leaves just enough to catch a glimpse of them before they hit the ground. Knowing how flash photography freezes objects in motion, I opened up the pop-up flash on my camera and waited for another leaf to fall.
As luck would have it, I was able to capture a leaf in mid-flight, as well as scare these two women who were having a cigarette. Combine flash photography at night with the fact there's a 6'6 guy staring at you in the rain and you can understand why these women weren't thrilled with me. However, I wasn't prepared for what happened next.
As soon as my flash popped, the woman on the right, in the glasses, started yelling. "Fooking hell, he took our picture!" Turns out, the woman was from across the pond. "You better delete that fooking picture" she shouted. I told her I was photographing the leaf, not her, but she kept yelling. The more I tried to explain myself, the more she kept screaming at me until I finally decided to walk away. That only infuriated her more.
As I'm walking back to my car, the woman and her friend started following me. Two more women started walking with them, taking pictures of me and yelling nasty stuff. I'm about 50-60 yards from my car when a guy in a hooded sweatshirt approaches me. He was white, mid-twenties, unshaven, had an eyebrow ring, and reeked of cigarette smoke. All he said was, "You bothering those women?" as he started reaching for my camera. I got in my car and tried to close the door but he prevented me from doing so. Things quickly escalated to him knocking off my hat and me saying, "Chill out, you don't want to do this." This guy wanted to fight, but I didn't.
Luckily, I had a broken memory card taped to the bottom of my camera and decided to give it to him to avoid having to do something we would both regret. "Here, take the damn memory card, I don't care," I said in a feigned, frustrated voice. It wasn't an Academy Award-worthy performance, but it was enough to convince the guy to leave me alone.
As for the picture itself, I cropped off a little bit on the left-hand side to even everything out. The title is based on the fact that the leaf appears to be falling slowly to the ground with the street lamps in the background providing beautiful streaks of light. From an interpretive point of view, there's a lot more to this photograph, but I'm going to let you use your imagination and powers of observation to draw your own conclusions.