Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New cedar elm leaf

with 31 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The new leaves of a cedar elm tree are sometimes so colorful that they seem not to be real. They remind me of the flat, sugar-sprinkled jelly candies in the form of fruit slices that my mother used to buy when I was a kid; in a similar way, people fashion marzipan into the shapes of leaves not all that different from the one shown here.

But let’s not speak of confections: this really is the young leaf of a cedar elm, Ulmus crassifolia. The species name means ‘stout-leaved,’ a reference to the stiff, rough texture of the tree’s small leaves. I photographed this one on a rundown lot where for several months a bunch of shabby buildings have stood abandoned in various stages of demolition. New buildings will soon enough replace them, along with the sunflowers, downy gaura, peppervine, giant ragweed, young cedar elms, and other plants and creatures that I and my camera have gone to play with repeatedly in the past couple of months. Once construction begins, all those pieces of nature will have melted into air, and I will have to say of this real place, as someone before me did of a place only imagined, that all my revels there now are ended.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(For those interested in the craft of photography, point 11 in About My Techniques is relevant to today’s picture.)


Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2011 at 5:58 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Nice texture here, Steve 🙂


    August 3, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    • Beyond the “visual texture,” I wish you could feel how rough the leaves feel to the touch.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2011 at 6:39 AM

  2. It looks so perfect, so unblemished, so symmetrical – as you say: so unreal. It’s beautiful.


    August 3, 2011 at 11:38 AM

  3. Beautiful!

    What’s the background? Artificial?


    August 3, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    • Glad you find it beautiful.

      No, I never use artificial backgrounds. I was aiming almost parallel to the ground, slightly downward, and I was close to the leaf; even with an aperture of f/8, the dry plants and earth in the background were so much farther away than the close point of focus that they appear almost completely devoid of detail. I’m not always able to get such a neutral background, but it makes me happy when I do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2011 at 4:26 PM

  4. I also think it looks good enough to eat 😉


    August 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM

  5. I’m impressed by seeing the roughness. Almost feels like I should be able to feel it


    August 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM

  6. I’m such a fan of macro shots! This one is truly a beauty. I love the color detail along with the texture. 😀


    August 5, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    • Great: as an aficionado of macro you can indeed appreciate the color and texture of this leaf.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 5, 2011 at 3:33 PM

  7. Successful texture interpretation!

  8. That’s a really pretty picture. Thanks for sharing!


    August 7, 2011 at 8:22 PM

  9. […] took this picture at the same place where I photographed a new cedar elm leaf and two ants entombed in a drop of sunflower resin. As I mentioned in the post about the cedar elm […]

  10. […] readers of this blog have seen cedar elm once before, in August, when I provided a picture of one of its brand-new leaves that reminded me of marzipan. For more information about Ulmus crassifolia, including a clickable […]

  11. A confection for the eyes. So beautiful.

    Cindy Kilpatrick

    August 7, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    • A good word, confection. This lot has now been razed in preparation for construction. The little cedar elm is gone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2012 at 10:01 PM

  12. […] search engine apparently thought that my picture of a new cedar elm leaf would make for a good […]

  13. I really like how you captured the texture here so strongly that I can see it and I can feel it because I can see all the little bumps relative to the almost plastic appearance new growth so often has. The texture looks like sharp goosebumps, I can definitely tell that it’s rough.

    I see too your comment on shooting horizontally, up close so as to block out the background in ways. Nice example, thanks.



    January 27, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    • I’ve taken other pictures of cedar elm leaves since then, but this remains my favorite. Unfortunately the young tree is gone, replaced last year by a parking lot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2014 at 6:11 AM

  14. Thank you for recording pieces of the life here before it is gone.


    July 6, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    • You’re welcome. There are unfortunately many sites—and the number keeps increasing—where all that’s left of nature is photographs of the way things once were.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      • Yes, this is why I feel my small sketches are important. I am looking, I am learning, I am sharing.


        July 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        • That’s a good motto: “I am looking, I am learning, I am sharing.”

          It’s great that you have a talent for watercolors. I can’t draw or paint, so I use a camera.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

          • I am pretty iffy with my current camera, which is why I paint. 🙂


            July 6, 2014 at 1:21 PM

            • Understood. One can’t do everything.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

              • I used to be very dissapointed about that because my father and daughter are both camera and darkroom people. I learned editing because I had to fix so many of my pictures. Now I appreciate our differences in recording methods, and also our similar appreciations for the view.


                July 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

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