Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A redbud tree’s new leaf

with 21 comments

New Redbud Tree Leaf 0028A

A few posts back you saw a redbud tree that was already beginning to leaf out on March 27th but whose blossoms were still the attention-getters. On the same outing along E. 51st St. I found a couple of smaller redbud trees, Cercis canadensis, growing in relative isolation and flowerlessness. I noticed that their new leaves looked particularly attractive with the sunlight coming through them, and although having the sun in front of me made photographing the leaves difficult because of the frequent artifacts of light produced in the camera’s lens, I took up the challenge. Here’s one of the abstract pictures that came out of my attempts. In seeing the curve of the leaf’s lobe and the very dark, mostly vertical shaft that widens as it goes down, I’m reminded of a harp.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2015 at 5:50 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Sunlight through leaves is always a winner for me. Great photo Steve. Love the fact that we can see the tiny hairs around the edge!


    April 22, 2015 at 5:53 AM

    • One reason I liked the front lighting as much as I did, Jude, is that it delineated those little hairs, which might not have been visible (or at least prominent) with lighting from behind me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 7:16 AM

  2. You did a fine job controlling the light, especially as yellows can be problematic, and the shadow is a wonderful feature. Very nice.

    Steve Gingold

    April 22, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    • In looking back at my archive just now I saw that I’d tried dozens of backlit pictures, sometimes of a single leaf and other times of several leaves in a small cluster; sometimes with other foliage visible in the distance, but mostly with isolating blue sky; sometimes with artifacts of light, but usually not; sometimes with shadows cast forward onto the subject, but mostly not. When there were shadows, they were sometimes from slender stalks, but occasionally bold, as in this take.

      As for yellow, it certainly can be bright, but none of the yellow areas in any of the pictures from this session got exposed to the point that I couldn’t bring them back down to an acceptable level in Adobe Camera Raw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 7:35 AM

  3. Maybe it’s the influence of Earth Day, but the shape reminds me of one of my garden trowels that has a sharp blade similar to the dark shaft.


    April 22, 2015 at 7:55 AM

  4. Nicely done.

    I looked at the leafing trees in the woods close to the rear of the house. Those farthest along all seem to be wild cherry trees. I never noticed that before. The locust trees will be last.

    Happy Earth Day.

    Jim in IA

    April 22, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    • Thanks. I wish I had wild cherry trees so close to my house, but the nearest I’m aware of are several miles away. I can appreciate what you say about not having noticed till now that they’re the species whose leaves are farthest along; no matter how familiar we are with something, there’s always more to observe.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 9:35 AM

  5. Spring’s sweet leaf doth soon uncurl,
    yet, shaftless, ne’er would loose its furl.


    April 22, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    • Challenged to give backlit leaf photographs a whirl,
      I hunched I o’er, the redbud tree’s temporary burl.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 9:45 AM

  6. Great photo. I have a lot of photos like this. Our sun is getting lower in the sky and so it is easier to get these sort of shots. Love the textures in the leaf.

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 22, 2015 at 3:42 PM

    • It’s good to hear you’ve been taking advantage of that lower sun, though you may not appreciate the cold that comes with it.

      Yes, that leaf texture appeals to me, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 6:52 PM

  7. Simply beautiful. The contrast of colour against that perfect blue is just stunning.


    April 22, 2015 at 5:01 PM

    • I often use that kind of sky blue to isolate and bring out the color in something of a different hue. This young leaf was a likely candidate so I went for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 22, 2015 at 6:55 PM

  8. leafism


    April 22, 2015 at 11:49 PM

  9. I love how the lighting highlights the fine hairs around the edges and also shows the delicate veins in the leaf. Beautiful shot, as always. Do you ever take a bad shot? 😉


    April 23, 2015 at 6:40 AM

  10. I love the detail you captured, the leaf has such an amazing structure.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    April 23, 2015 at 5:05 PM

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