Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding Color in Late Autumn

Each year, autumn catches me a little off-guard, even though it goes through more or less the same sequence year after year. I am surprised by how early the first leaves start turning, by how long it takes the foliage peak to arrive, how quickly the peak passes, and how long traces of color persist after the peak. A similar process happens with bird migration, especially in the spring when birds need to reach their breeding grounds quickly.

The tree up at the top is a Pin Oak. I posted a photo of the same species, but in black and white, a couple days ago. I like photographing leaves backlit or against the sky since that seems to bring out the best in their color, whether it is green in summer or other colors in autumn. This is true of the Pin Oak at top and even more so for the plum tree above, whose colors look far more dull when viewed from other angles.

Backlighting really helps to bring out the varied colors of dried or drying leaves, like this grape leaf. Subtle gradations of brown are often visible to a careful observer's eye, but they can be difficult to reproduce on a camera's sensor. These dried leaves are not just dead and boring; they have a beauty of their own.