As I stare sadly out of my window at the stark grays and browns, I mourn the loss of our leaves, but are the leaves really gone? Happily they are gone from my yard, but as we await the winter snows, the leaves are still around and they can provide some interesting photographic opportunities. Our earth bound leaves are now undergoing their annual evolution from brilliant colors, through rusty browns to their inevitable decay, but before they are buried in white, take a look down.
Shortly following the drop, the leaves retain their color and can
create entertaining patterns on the ground. Much of the
same rules apply for leaves on the ground as for tree bound foliage. A
polarizer is still a critical piece of equipment to cut reflection and saturate
colors. The brilliant leaves can provide a much needed splash of color to
various drab late autumn subjects, such as streams, stone walls and tree trucks.
Broad views of the landscape carpeted with color can work well,but more
intimate compositions of just a few leaves can more effectivelyy celebrate the
contrasting colors and intricate detail of these remarkably delicate but complex
sugar factories. Naturally, these arrangements can be enhance by a little
gentle manipulation, but the trick is to maintain a sense of natural randomness
while improving on nature. Of course leaves, in great numbers, can be just
plain fun, and provide one of the best opportunities for children, young and
old, to frolic in the deliciously earthy piles.
As winter approaches the leaves continue their decent into the ground, but as they settle into pools of water or become frosted and frozen, they offer new photographic opportunities. The compositions become much more dependent on patterns and detail than on color. Before they become completely buried, the early snows often create a striking contrast with the fading reds and golds.
New England's late fall "stick season" is general fairly short and we are usually anxious to see it pass away, but the the season offers photographic opportunities that are available at no other time. Last week I discussed the unique attractions of autumn waterfalls and there is no other time of year when our scenes are carpeted with such riotous color. So get out there and start looking down. Just don't stumble into a tree!
Individual leaves are marvelously delicate and complex and their fascinating structure becomes especially prominent as they begin to decay and fade. I have been experimenting in the studio with macro photography of individual leaves. It has all been very rudimentary but I've found the results of trans-illumination to be striking. Next week I will discuss what I've learned and show you some of my early efforts. Now I have to get outside and look for some interesting specimens.