Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More seasonal leaf color

with 26 comments

I used to say fall color, meaning fall leaf color, but in the warm climate of central Texas warm leaf colors can continue into December and even January, so I’m tending toward the more-inclusive term seasonal leaf color. Examples that you’ve seen so far have been the leaves of rattan, Texas red oak, cedar elm, flameleaf sumac, and even poison ivy. Cometh now a native grass that botanists call Chasmanthium latifolium, and that the rest of us know by one or several of the names given for the plant on the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: inland sea oats (the one I first learned), Indian wood oats, wild oats, river oats, flathead oats, upland oats, and upland sea oats. As some of those names confirm, this grass is common in the woods and near creeks. I photographed this inland sea oats leaf on January 22 along a portion of the Smith Memorial Trail that passes close to Bull Creek.

Of course leaves can dry out and turn bright colors in hot weather too, as some of you saw back in August in a photograph of a bulrush; it’s a sedge rather than a grass, and its leaves are typically several feet long rather than just a few inches, but its texture and colors were similar to those of the inland sea oats leaf shown above.

To learn more about Chasmanthium latifolium, and to see a state-clickable map showing the many places where the species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

If you’re curious about photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and especially 12 in About My Techniques apply to today’s image.

And to anyone who hasn’t noticed the calendar—or who has—I’ll wish you a happy first day of February in a year that offers 28 more of them.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 1, 2012 at 5:09 AM

26 Responses

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  1. The black background really helps this pop out.


    February 1, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    • It does. My eyes could see the details of the background, but the backlit leaf was so bright in comparison that when the camera metered for it, the darker background came out so underexposed as to seem completely black. It’s a bit of camera magic that works in the picture’s favor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2012 at 6:27 AM

  2. I love the trick! Beautiful

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 1, 2012 at 6:35 AM

  3. Great colors and texture. Looks like a painting.


    February 1, 2012 at 7:38 AM

  4. This is beautiful! 🙂


    February 1, 2012 at 8:12 AM

  5. Very dramatic…the dark background really works well with this shot!


    February 1, 2012 at 9:58 AM

  6. I’m continuing to love your blog, and I gave you a Bean’s Pat on my blog today.

    Pat Bean

    February 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM

  7. Excelentes detalles Steven!!
    Que buen contraste entre los colores y que buena textura!
    Un saludo!

    Pablo Buitrago

    February 1, 2012 at 12:38 PM



    February 1, 2012 at 1:21 PM

  9. Combined with the colors, the faint, almost diamond-shaped imperfections in the leaf recall traditional African Kente cloth. The cloth is woven in strips, and then sewn together – I’d love to have a lappa (long tied skirt) made of fabric strips like this!


    February 1, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    • Thanks for the link to Kente cloth. To tell the truth—the unvarnished truth—I’ve thought about clothing that would have patterns from some of my pictures, but I know nothing about cloth and weaving and tapestry and sewing and related things. Maybe someone who works with those things will see this and propose a joint venture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2012 at 5:39 PM

  10. The way your photograph picks up every little striation in the leaf is outstanding.

    Susan Scheid

    February 1, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    • Striations like those definitely intrigue me, and fortunately my lens has the resolving power to delineate them. I’m happy to be able to show them to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2012 at 8:57 PM

  11. Steve, your images are awesome! I have got to try some of your techniques. Just gorgeous!


    February 2, 2012 at 3:03 AM

  12. This is such an effective abstract picture, I love it.

    Journey Photographic

    February 2, 2012 at 4:29 AM

  13. This is simply a luscious shot. I love when the backlight cooperates so fabulously, and this leaf has everything you could hope for: all that gorgeous texture, color, pattern, asymmetry, compound curves; oh, *so* much more beauty in one leaf than somebody too far off for macro could ever dream.


    February 6, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    • Thanks for saying all those things so well, Kathryn. I wish we could get Macro to run for president, with Backlighting as vice-president.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 10:19 PM

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