Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leaf Portraits - a different take on fall colors

I suppose the idea for this first started last fall when I did a walkabout in my neighborhood with my camera.  I noticed a single red maple leaf on the sidewalk and thought it made an interesting study against the grainy texture of the concrete.  I posted it to the fall colors album in my picasa gallery from last year, and recently noticed that it has garnered more views than most of the other photos there.  You can see it here

I enjoy looking at the random, abstract patterns of fallen leaves that carpet the ground, and have seen some fantastic photos taken of this very thing.  It occurred to me that it might be rather fun to make purposeful arrangements of leaves under more controlled lighting and background conditions.  So, a couple of weeks ago when I went on my most recent neighborhood fall color shoot, I took the time to collect some leaves from the wide variety of deciduous trees that were busy shedding them in preparation for winter.   I have to say that I found this to be as useful as it was enjoyable to do - it made me think about composition and design, since I was now in complete control of that.  I used a light neutral grey piece of cloth as the backdrop for the portraits, as I'm calling them, with indirect afternoon light.  I also gave thought to how the final image would be cropped during post-processing in Elements.  Just like doing a quick sketch of something, I didn't want to spend too much time deciding on the "perfect" crop; I went with a quick, intuitive approach, being mindful of how the negative space affects the composition.   This project has also provided me with some reference material for a possible series of paintings.  

I took about 40 photos total; here is a small sampling:

Color Connection
Three Norway maples and an unidentified species form a study in yellow

Disorderly Conduct
Red maple leaves in a variety of shapes, sizes and species

Oak Leaf Quartet

Maple Relations
Three different species of maple are represented here

All in the Family
Different sizes, colors and shapes from the same species of maple

Celebrating Diversity
A variety of shapes, sizes and colors represented here.  The very large leaf in the back (8" wide) is from a London Planetree - a pollution-tolerant hybrid of the sycamore family.


  1. I love leaves and these are all absolutely beautiful!!

  2. Thanks, Paula! I'm glad you enjoyed them. I love the subtle colors, textures and symmetry of fall leaves and this seemed the best way to capture all of that before it fades.


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