Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall Colors

Photographing Fall colors doesn't always have to be about sweeping vistas of mountainsides aflame. There is room for studies at the other end of the spectrum, a more intimate and microcosmic look at the beauty of Autumn leaves. Even this image incorporates more of the landscape than I had in mind.

The woods surrounding our home are made up of a large amount of hickory trees which turn a lovely shade of yellow this time of year. By positioning the sun on the opposite side from the camera and out of frame, it is possible to bring out the translucent qualities of the leaves.

By moving in even closer, the images becomes a study in abstract form as well as color. Depth of field and the point of focus are two of the main concerns. Too much depth of field creates a background that is too sharp and distracting.

One of my favorite trees this time of year are the sumac, which I am not really sure would even be classified as a tree. They are more of a large bush, but their color in the fall is one of the most intense reds seen in nature. I took this image in a different direction, making texture a main theme. I am not sure, but I am guessing the moniker "winged" comes from the look of the stems.

This particular species is called a winged Sumac and is considered a dwarf plant. It is actually a member of the cashew family. The plant produces panicles of yellow flowers in summer that mature into small fruits called drupes in the fall. Some years the birds don't seem to pay much attention to them, but when the ground is covered with snow, they become a source of energy for Bluebirds, Robins and other small songbirds as well as woodpeckers. Having said how colorful their leaves are, in this photo, I decided to render the color more subdued.

I am so attracted to the forms of the hickory leaves. They have so many unusual characteristics, like the way the leaves become larger the further out on the stem they are positioned. When I was growing up, shagbark hickories were common in the area around our home and each fall, my brothers, sister and I would gather nuts like squirrels to enjoy over the winter. They were an awful lot of work for a small reward because the shell was so thick and the inner nut so small. This photo lent itself to processing as a high-key image.

I have a long-term project that I call "the last leaf of summer" where I try to find a single intensely colored leaf in late fall that embodies the "last gasp" of the season. In trying to vary the result last fall, I incorporated two techniques I hadn't tried with this project before: motion and double exposure. By decreasing shutter speed and not mounting the camera on a tripod, you can suggest motion through blurring. My current camera has a feature where it will produce a double exposure in which motion can also be integral to the abstracted result. I usually prefer to remove noise from the image, but I actually added it to this one. If I processed it again, I would probably remove the small, dark spots on the left of the image which are dust on the camera sensor. I left them as added texture, but have since decided they are too distracting.

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