Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 17th, 2011

Distressed sycamore leaf

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A distressed sycamore leaf; click for more detail.

As the drought in Texas continues, many plants are feeling stressed. In some trees, like the bald cypress featured in a recent post, leaves have taken on an appearance that might make people think we’re in autumn—if only the temperature weren’t around 100°F (38°C) every afternoon. Shown above is the leaf of a sycamore tree, Platanus occidentalis, that I observed on August 8 in Great Hills Park, a nature preserve that has an entrance conveniently located just half a mile downhill from my house in Austin.

By positioning myself so that the leaf was between the sun and the camera, I allowed light to pass through the leaf on its way to the camera’s sensor. In taking advantage of the leaf’s translucence in that way, I ended up with brighter and more saturated color than would have been the case if the light had reflected off the leaf. In this case, the hole in the leaf also allowed a glimpse of the all-too-familiar blue sky that has characterized the drought.

By the way: doesn’t the grid of lines in the leaf remind you of streets and roads as they appear at a certain magnification on a map at an online site like maps.google.com?

For more information about the sycamore, which is reputed to be the tallest deciduous tree in the United States, you can visit the websites of the USDA and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2011 at 5:50 AM

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