Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All you need is one leaf

We dream of orange and yellow aspens flowing down hillsides like lava, leaf-strewn country roads, fiery red maples framing a covered bridge. But sometimes Mother Nature doesn't cooperate. Freezing storms turn the leaves black; wind blows the leaves from the trees; or autumn didn't arrive the same time you did (or left too soon).

But surely you can find ONE leaf to shoot! One good leaf to evoke a feeling of fall. Which is what I did yesterday. We have a few red-flowering currant bushes in our back yard (kind of — the deer snack on them). I picked up a fallen leaf, put it in a book for a couple of days to flatten it, then took it out to the studio to photograph.

I rummaged around, found some various papers to put it on, and began shooting. The orangey-red photo is the leaf on handmade paper; the blue/brown photo? Hand-painted Japanese paper. Next is the leaf placed on top of a piece of rusty metal that Chris found (this one's my favorite), The golden photo is the leaf on a piece of paper that I painted with watercolor paint. And finally, you see the leaf on a piece of paper I used to clean my paintbrushes. This is just the tip of the iceberg; I have more than 30 variations from this one shoot.

What's my point? We have expectations of what we'll find this fall, what we'd like to shoot. Sometimes those expectations aren't met (especially for those of you in California's eastern Sierra right now). Rather than bemoan the fact that you're not seeing what you want to see, look around and see what's there. Put a leaf on a rock, on a bed of pine needles, float it in a stream, or, like Stacy B. did one year, lick the leaf and slap it onto the trunk of a tree to shoot at eye level!

All it takes is one leaf and a decent background. Happy fall! ©Carol Leigh


  1. Fantastic
    What a great way to demonstrate the effect of backgrounds.

  2. Ah, the power of backgrounds! There are some instances, such as at antique car shows, where I'll see a car and wonder what can I put in FRONT of it? Always good to keep in mind. Aloha, Carol Leigh


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