Fall Leaves - A Color Evolution

I picked up these leaves on a hike the other day. It started with the brightest yellow leaf which caught my eye among all the brown dirt and dried up crunchy ground coverings. As I looked more closely, I noticed leaves in a rainbow of shades. It took about 10 minutes of searching to create almost a full spectrum. I believe they are all from the same type of tree. (If someone knows what type of tree, please share!) 

What fascinates me most is that the life cycle of the tree leaves follows the order of spectral hues: Green to yellow-green to yellow to yellow-orange to red-orange to near-red to violet-y brown. So easy to take for granted, but think about it for a minute. The leaf colors could just as well be mixed up. Red orange could directly follow the green...and yellow-orange could be the most dead leaf of all. Instead, nature follows this beautiful color logic that feels so perfect we don't even notice how perfect it is.

When I brought the leaves home, they just beckoned to be photographed. In exploring different background textures and colors, I created a little study in simultaneous contrast. Basically, this means that colors change appearance depending on what colors they are next to. (This is where I am so happy to have my photo styling experience. You learn to use ANYTHING to create the right look for a shot.)

background: vintage cloth-covered cookbook in turquoise 

background: vintage red velvet chair seat

background: white office desktop

background: wood dresser

background: yellow painted tea cart

background: vintage green velvet bench

background: black painted console table

Do you have a favorite?

photos © Kelly Berg 2011