11 November 2013
Part One: Oak Leaf
Part Two: Variations on Leaves from Bradford Pear Tree
Let me know which you prefer and why.
If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. If you have any questions about the Phoneography Challenge, please contact me.
Autumn is a season of constant reassessment. The landscape’s journey from fully dressed to sculpted bodies, which clings to the horizon and beyond, fills me up with silent joy. There is a treasure trove of memories each time that I slide my hands around the bamboo rake and begin the ritual of gathering and placing.
Leaves are “liquid gold” to my gardens. Nature provides them, and I comply. They make mulch and act as protection. Arugula and parsley are smothered in leaves. New native cardinal flowers are completely covered. Seasoned areas are cozy and can still feel the sunlight. Leaves are electric blankets for the wintery days and nights.
As I rake, the sound of the action is sweet music. I cannot help but be calmed by the process with its cadence and rhythm. No modern tool with its noise pollution will ever be held by me (I hear those blowers and it aggravates.).
There are so many leaves that it surprises me when one pops into view–grabs my attention for its unique qualities. While it is profoundly awe-inspiring to see swaths of singular or multi-colored autumn leaves beaming from trees, I am drawn to solo beauty.
Maybe I find their duties and responsibilities overpowering. They are such essential parts of Mother Nature’s progeny. They are life lines for our lives.
WE depend upon their partnership with sunlight to produce food that sustains their bones and ours. They are the heart of photosynthesis and its crucial role in food production.
Sounds as though I’m reviewing high school botany, but I’m truly serious. (Photosynthesis involves a chemical reaction: 6CO2 + 6H2O (+ light energy) C6H12O6 + 6O2.) That process is our source of oxygen or O2. We depend upon it for the air we breathe, which is why deforestation is a major concern.
When I view a leaf, I intuit the tree that hosts its remarkable contribution to our lives. I covet its place in our human journey.
Maybe I seem a bit overly dramatic. Maybe it’s a result of yesterday’s Visiting Scholars Lecture Series at UD. The one that I attended was titled “Telling the Climate Change Science Story.” It told the bad and ugly with a bit of optimism, and was stacked with scientific facts.
In the Lens section are my tributes to the leaf in two parts. Part One shows a singular oak leaf with its intricate system of veins. I can imagine the sunlight being drawn onto the surface of this sweet leaf, which has lost its original color.
Part Two contains five Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana) leaves, each from this season, and easily tells why I anticipate autumn’s effects on a tree’s multitude of leaves. In my part of the USA this ornamental deciduous is considered an invasive, having been brought here from China and Korea. I would never plant it, but it came with my half-acre property. It’s the species that city’s plant to enliven the urban streetscapes. There are so many other choices that it’s easy to understand why my city just removed them from our Main Street.
Among other issues the Bradford Pear tree has a shallow root system, weak structure, and a short life span (25-30 years). While I keep it pruned, I cannot remove it. It’s a haven for the wildlife, and I find its painterly display in autumn a reason to honor its presence.
My lone Bradford Pear attracts a variety of birds year round. Woodpeckers have made concentric circles around the trunk (a yellow-bellied sapsucker has been dining all morning). Brown creepers forage for insects on it as they make their way up and down its girth. White-breasted nuthatches open seeds in the groves of its bark.
In early spring the tree is covered in a parade of blossoms that herald in the warmer weather. Strangely, this fruit tree does not bear edibles. But the squirrels devour the teeny tiny clusters of immature and brownish-yellow fruits. But many of them simply drop and dry, and it’s so messy.
Still, each autumn the joy overshadows the negatives (especially the shallow root system). When it begins its slow shedding, a kaleidoscope of colors appear. Each leaf seems to have its own personality. Each leaf has stamped its last breath with a startling statement.
I collect and dry them to savor their bountiful hues. Eventually, the colors fade, and I can only remember their charms through a frozen still made by my camera’s eye.
While the leaves are fairly uniform, each seems to allow light to bounce off them. These smallest leaves (1 3/4″ x 2″) are double-toothed edged (almost scalloped), and have a sheen.
Clearly, they catch my eye as they absorb the sun’s rays. Clearly, they astonish with their multi-colored personalities.
Tip of the Week: While I mostly shoot nature in its natural setting, I usual take the single leaf inside with LED lights. Since I dry them, each is photographed a few weeks after collection. For this set I placed them on tracing paper, just to give the background a soft texture. Maybe it would have been better to take them outside, but I find that I’m on a continuous journey of experimentation that has infinite ways to travel.
Here are other entries:
As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog. Here’s a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Phoneography Challenges:
1st Monday: Nature
2nd Monday: Macro
3rd Monday: Black and White
4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).
I like that you took the leaves inside and out of their usual surroundings. Puts an emphasise on the individuality of the leaves. My favourite is #5, it looks like kissing lips to me. Have a nice weekend, Sally!
Otto, I appreciate your observations. Thanks.
Signs and changes of seasons reminds us that something new and better will come in the future. Thanks for the recent thoughts and prayers for the Philippines. Every time I watch the local channels, I had to stop and wipe some tears.
Oh, I do hope that life begins to get better for those from your hometown. Everyone needs to get involved. Thinking of your family and you.
OH THE BRADFORD PAIR Scalloped edge for certain Sally! Beautiful post!
The macro really shows the eloquence of this leaf. Thank you.
Can’t really separate them. All excellent.
Enjoy the week. Thanks so much.
Each leaf is intensely beautiful. You help me see leaves in a brand new way! Magnificent. Thanks.
Thanks so much.
Oh wow Sally, This whole post was fantastic. Beautifully written and stunning photos. I learn so much from your tips. I would have never thought of LED’s which I have for a still light source. Thank you 🙂 Here is my weeks entry http://cassiebeers.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/iphoneography-challenge-macro/
Cassie, I appreciate you comment. Thanks.
A beautiful symbol of hope and new beginnings. Thanks for the recent generous thoughts and well wishes. A blessed day my friend.
Enjoy the week. Thanks.
Lovely leaves, especially the oak leaf. Here’s mine for this week . http://allkindsaeverything.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/phoneography-challenge-macro/
What BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS! A very thoughtful post! I can’t believe I just ran into this blog today!
Welcome, delighted to have your visit. Thanks so much for you comment.
Well thanks for posting! It takes bravery!
Jasmine, it does. See you soon. Thanks.
The leathery texture that appears to be on the first leaf is astonishing; shows how much the leaf is like our skin! I have a tree that is not the best for my garden but the birds and insects love it so much that I simply have to leave it in place. Lovely word image of your raking activity and the turning of the leaves into lovely warm blankets for the garden beds.
Enjoy the week, and see you soon. Thanks so much.
Incredible shots Sally! And you words add a whole new dimension to our appreciation of them! No’s 1 and 5 are my picks,. Love the clarity in the former and the colours in the latter.
Thanks so much for your comment. See you soon.
Once again Sally, I am more entranced by your pens than your lens (no insult to your lens intended!). Your poetic take on a subject is soul deepening. Thank you for your images, your words, and your challenge. It’s great fun to read your musings every week.
I appreciate your words more than i can express. Thanks.
Gorgeous leaves Sally and thanks for the information about Bradford Pear trees. Blowers aggravate me too and I much prefer a rake or broom.
My post can be seen here: http://nwframeofmind.com/2013/11/11/iphoneography-monday-macro-11-11-13/ but once again, your Macro is much closer and cleaner. 🙂
I appreciate your comment. Enjoy the week. Thanks.
I love them all too – the almost reptilian quality of the oak leaf and the lovely rich pink of the second leaf. You really know your leaves and what amazing macro images! Forgive my ignorance, but I also have an iPhone 4s and find it very hit and miss when trying to capture macro images as it hardly ever focuses properly!
One thing that I learned is that our instincts are to put the phone practically on top of the subject. It’s best to restrain a bit and hold the phone as steady as possibly, and try different distances. I appreciate your comment. Thanks.
Beautiful autumn leaf captured. My favorite is the oak leaf.
Thanks so much.
Sally, your photos produce stunning clarity, seriously I cant choose! They’re all so good, with such gorgeous rich colours… something for me to aspire to I think. 🙂
Thanks also for the pingback to my post, should I include it here too?
Amanda, you do not have to include the URL on this comment. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
Hi Sally, I like no. 6. I love the way the veins stand out in the upper part of the leaf, and the contrast that makes with the bottom half.
Here’s my entry.
Steve, delighted that you joined the challenge. I appreciate your comment. Thanks.
Ace photos of leaves. It is my mission to capture a falling leaf. Here’s my entry this week:
Phoneography Challenge: Macro
Steve, hope that you fulfill your mission. Thanks.
Sally — It’s a tie this week. I enjoyed all six of your set equally. All well framed, colorful, with great lighting and shadows that really made the leafy textures pop! Here’s my submission for the week: Macros Outside a Museum — http://thepalladiantraveler.com/2013/11/11/phoneography-challenge-macro-italy-vicenza-palazzo-chiericati/
Tom, thanks so much. See you soon.
Beautiful photos, I particularly like the second to last one. Your presentation of the pear leaves made me feel as though I was walking through an art gallery walking from photo to photo. Just lovely!
My entry this week: http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/phoneography-challenge-macro-time-well-spent/
Have a great week.
Angeline, I’m truly touched. See you soon. Thanks.
Sally-these are all gorgeous! I particularly like #4 and #5-such rich color and the details in all are amazing-beautiful, beautiful work! You really show the rest of us what is possible with our camera phones-thank you!
I’m humbled. I do appreciate your comment and visit. Thanks.
I love all these leaf photos. The clarity of the third one is incredible. Mine is coming…
Amy, thanks so much.
Experimenting with photography is what keeps the light on for all of us I would guess. Beautiful shots as always. Happy Monday.
Laurie, absolutely, Have a lovely week, Thanks.
Interesting leathery textures on the leaves. The notes on the photography process is interesting 🙂 I haven’t really thought about light source all that much. 😛
Enjoy the week. Thanks.
Sally, you’ve highlighted the beauty of the autumn leaf beautifully!! I like the pear leaf shots. Something about the shape and color attract me. And here’s my entry for this week: http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/phoneography-challenge-macro-the-dowagers-of-autumn/.
Have a wonderful Monday.
Janet, enjoy what’s left of the glories of autumn. Happy Phoneography Monday. Thanks.