Wet Leaves


Just because the sun goes away and it starts to rain is no reason to put your camera away. Instead, take advantage of the soft, even lighting to record some of the finer details that would otherwise be difficult to capture under the high contrast lighting of bright sunny days.

From the vantage point of my porch, I was able to set up my tripod and camera and zoom in on these sweetgum leaves while remaining dry. Sweetgum trees have leaves that are roughly star-shaped, although you can see in this photo at the lower left some leaves have three lobes, while the others have five. Usually, the sweetgum trees run the gamut of fall colors from deep yellow to orange, and from red to burgundy. This year, the sweetgum in our front yard decked itself out in yellow until last weekend’s wind blew them all away. This smaller tree in the backyard tended towards orange-red, although I have no idea why one tree would be any more or less yellow or red than the other. Perhaps different amounts of sunlight is the determining factor.

The photo was taken with a Nikon D70 digital camera, using a 210 mm setting on the lens, an f-stop of 5.0, and an 81B Cokin warming filter. I later opened the image in Photoshop and lightened it, without doing any color correction or sharpening. The white blur in the background is a neighbor’s garage. If you want to achieve a similar effect in your photos, use a small f-stop such as 2.8 or 4.0 and be sure your foreground subject is in sharp focus because at smaller f-stops you will have little leeway in your focusing. A tripod is excellent, but if you don’t have one you can rest your camera on a box or a railing for some added stability. Hand-holding your camera for exposure times slower than a 250th of a second is likely to add some blur to your photo. No matter how still you stand, your heartbeat can still cause minor camera shake that can be quite noticeable when you enlarge your images.

So, get out in the rainy weather for some very interesting nature photographs. Experiment with using your camera’s flash to bring out some highlights in water drops, and try using small apertures to blur the background and give you a nice, even color. The effect is almost one of a watercolor painting. If you don’t have a porch roof to stand under, use a raincoat or even a plastic bag to keep your camera equipment dry. Enjoy the rainy weather!


3 thoughts on “Wet Leaves

  1. Hello K, this is R from Comm class (I do not like using my real name on blogs yet, sorry).

    I like this picture. Sometimes we forget that simplicity is beautiful. I took a picture of a green tomato sitting on a fence post to ripen, last fall in Gettysburg. I was very simple, yet the picture spoke volumes.

Comments are closed.