Bittersweet Tears


Aspen leaf and Fall foliage on the forest floor. Mount Mansfield State Forest. Underhill, Vermont.

Picking something beautiful out of the chaos of leaves on the forest floor in Fall is always a challenge. It’s easy as a photographer to get lost looking for that one great Autumn image in all of the color and at times we can forget that there are great compositions right under our feet. I spent a good deal of time during this foliage season looking for the smaller more intimate compositions rather than doing a lot of wide-angle work. Finding these compositions is no piece of cake…Just ask anyone who lives in a foliage state. It takes a great deal of time and patience to stare at a large area of leaves on the ground to find the perfect photograph.

I made this image at the end of the season and while there was some color around most of the leaves had already fallen from the trees. The day that I shot this was overcast with a bit of rain and I was surprised while I was hiking that the Aspen leaves on the ground were holding quite a bit of this water in nicely formed drops. Two challenges presented themselves to me which were…Glare from the sky above makes for a lot of weird highlights on the leaves as I looked straight down on them with my camera and finding just the right leaf arrangement is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The first problem of the glare was solved with my five dollar solution and my constant shooting companion…A cheap umbrella. Holding a small travel umbrella over my gear softens the light and makes for an easier exposure. As an added bonus I can stay dry while I compose the shot. Finding the leaf arrangement was another matter but after some searching and diligence among a million other leaves this composition finally presented itself!

Image Data: ISO 100. 40mm. F11 @ 2 seconds. Cokin P series circular polarizer.

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6 thoughts on “Bittersweet Tears

  1. Love the contrast in the colours. You are absolutely right – you’d think that these would be easy to find but I spent quite some time last weekend searching a bed of leaves to find a composition – and the moment you try re-arranging the leaves it looks totally false. Well found, Andrew

  2. Excellent find, Andy. Separating art from all the chaos is what photography is all about and nicely illustrate here.

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