Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

When red becomes orange

with 18 comments

Another reliable source of colorful fall foliage in central Texas is the small tree known as rusty blackhaw, Viburnum rufidulum, whose species name means ‘reddish.’ You see it exemplified in the photograph above, taken in Great Hills Park on December 15th. As a reddish color came over those leaves, curiosity came over me, and I wondered what sort of pictures might be possible from behind the tree looking in the opposite direction. Cautiously I worked my way in there and got low to aim partly upward. From the other side the leaves looked more orange due to the sunlight shining through them and perhaps the blue sky beyond:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2020 at 4:43 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Isn’t that a wonderful phenomenon? I noticed it recently with the cypress in my yard, although the change in color wasn’t quite so dramatic. Where it’s most obvious down here is in the leaves of a certain ubiquitous non-native tree; that’s the only species where I’ve noticed this pretty red-to-orange transformation. Clouds are all very well, but you’ve shown us leaves from both sides now.


    December 17, 2020 at 4:59 AM

    • Leave it to you to leave off by giving me leave to apply Joni Mitchell’s words to leaves. I don’t often come across rusty blackhaw; maybe if I did I’d have noticed the changing leaf color years ago—or maybe not. Now I’ll have to be on the lookout for the phenomenon in bald cypresses, even if the change isn’t as dramatic.

      With the temperature at freezing here now, looks like once the sun rises I’ll have to bundle up and force myself back out to the nearest stand of frostweed to see if there’s an encore performance, a euphemism that public relations people are fond of using for the repeat of a television show.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2020 at 6:44 AM

      • I’m looking forward to a bit of an encore performance myself. I’m headed back to Kerrville, to pick up my car in Bandera tomorrow. At least, I hope that will happen. I’m not even taking my camera this time — the last trip was a cruise. This will be a delivery.


        December 17, 2020 at 6:51 AM

  2. Your images captured exactly how it feels to be IN the woods. It’s often a snarl to move through, and one needs to be aware of possible foot-tripping features on the ground or eye-poking branches! But a view from the other side often yields something totally unexpected. You must have gotten in a very low position to get that second view. The leaves are gorgeous in both images, but I also love the blue skies. The dark blue in that first photo is interesting – it’s quite dark.


    December 17, 2020 at 6:58 AM

    • I was either sitting or kneeling, I forget which. For once I didn’t need to lie down, as I did when I photographed a nearby Texas oak soon afterwards.

      You’re sure right about being in the woods, with all their foot-tripping features and eye-poking branches. The woods here are also home to plenty of greenbriers, whose sharp spines kept snagging my jacket when I waded slowly through them to get closer to some of the things I was photographing.

      In the first picture, most of the rusty blackhaw leaves had indirect sunlight on them, but some of the leaves at the right were getting more direct rays. In processing the photograph I had to darken those leaves somewhat to keep them from drawing too much attention. In the second image, I’m assuming the blue skies had an effect on the color, making it more orange, but I don’t know if that’s true.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2020 at 7:14 AM

  3. I know of people myself included who transform the colours of their photos with an editing program. You however managed to do the same by simply taking the picture of the colourful leaves from the opposite side.

    Peter Klopp

    December 17, 2020 at 8:28 AM

    • Sometimes a different point of view does wonders, doesn’t it? I edit, too, to make a picture look as good as I can, but I wouldn’t completely change the color of one or more things—or if I did, I’d tell people the photograph didn’t conform to reality.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2020 at 11:13 AM

  4. First noticed the way leaves look from outside and inside when in preschool to 1st grade days, when climbing up a tree. I could look out and see my friends, but they couldn’t see me. Apparently the leaves are located in order to obtain optimal sunlight. The same phenomenon appears to be in evidence in your first and second pictures – densely red from the outside, but filtered with the sky visible in the second. Or at least that’s the way I see it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


    December 17, 2020 at 11:06 AM

    • Happy trip down memory lane. You were a lot more precocious about foliage than I was. I climbed trees, too, and noticed that when I was up high enough I could see water towers from a bunch of surrounding towns. I also realized that from up in a tree I could see people down below who weren’t aware of me. I never noticed a difference in the way leaves look till much later in life, thanks to dual interests in photography and native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2020 at 11:29 AM

  5. Great captures of this beautiful shrub/tree. I’d love to grow one, but they’re hard to find in nurseries and expensive, too!


    December 17, 2020 at 4:25 PM

  6. The same Viburnum from different angles – wow. The light in the second photo is beautiful.


    December 21, 2020 at 2:16 PM

  7. Hey Steve super colours … gosh hard to believe it’s the same tree


    December 23, 2020 at 12:43 PM

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