By the end of the day yesterday, our driveway was covered in leaves from the two ash trees in our front yard. I had run some errands around town last evening and returned just as the sun was going out of view between our neighbors’ houses across the street. I turned back to look at the non-descript jumble of leaves on the driveway and noticed a patch of sunshine lighting up a very small area.
I got my camera, which still had the 50mm 1.2 lens attached from yesterday’s table shoot, and looked for a suitable subject for the ray of light. Knowing that I had only a minute or two, I quickly found a single, yellow maple leaf. I knew that if I arranged it just right, the gentle backlighting of the setting sun might bring it to life.
And it did. You might think that I did something in software to enhance this photo. But aside from a few minor tweaks, the color and contrast you see here are what the camera recorded. Critics might suggest that the leaf is not properly focused, and I guess I would agree. But I think that the shallow depth of field and soft, unfocused parts of the yellow leaf lend to a feeling of decadence.
This photo is yet another example of the importance of being in the right place at the right instant. But it is also an example of what it means to be a photographer: seeing things that others might not otherwise see. A child might lie prone to study a single leaf. And so would some photographers.