Variations on a stream

Autumn Leaf and Bridalveil Creek, Yosemite

Leaf and Rocks, Bridalveil Creek, Yosemite
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
5 seconds
ISO 200
100 mm

In my November 4 post, I wrote at length about a recent morning spent photographing a single leaf I found plastered to a rock beside Bridalveil Creek in Yosemite (and my feelings about staged scenes). While my entire shoot that morning was all about one found leaf, it was just the latest in a long succession of focused visits to Bridalveil Creek. Each time I visit here the creek is different: In spring Bridalveil Creek spills into three distinct branches, each bulging with rushing snowmelt; most autumns, the creek has shrunk one branch, a trickle of its former self, decorated with yellow leaves; in winter the banks are lined with snow and ice crusts the surface. On each visit I usually choose a scene and work it to within an inch of its life. On this most recent morning I spent an hour photographing this one leaf, making sure I left no shot un-shot: Multiple lenses, a range of focal lengths, horizontal and vertical orientation, and a variety of perspectives.

Here are more samples:

Leaf, Bridalveil Creek, Yosemite

Here’s the version of the leaf I featured in my November 4 post. I started with wider compositions and gradually moved to tighter frames like this one. (If I were one to arrange leaves in my scenes, I might have been tempted to place one about where the pine needle sits on the rock opposite the leaf.)


Here’s the same image rotated into a vertical. Whenever possible, I like to horizontal and vertical version of each scene I photography, but rarely do they come out identical because each orientation requires its own crop. But an advantage of photographing a scene from directly above is that there’s no top or bottom to the scene. To make the horizontal scene into a vertical, I could have rotated my camera 90 degrees and re-shot, but it was much easier to simply rotate the image in Photoshop.

Shortly after I started, a breeze kicked up and deposited a green leaf in the middle of my scene. I wasn't particularly crazy about this leaf, but before it blew aways I captured a few frames.

Shortly after I started working on the scene, a breeze kicked up and deposited a green leaf  right on top of the pine needle mentioned above. Not only was it a not particularly photogenic leaf, it was upside-down (clearly I need to work on my powers of telepathic manifestation). But rather than knock the rogue leaf into the creek, I included it in my composition, capturing several frames before the breeze returned and did the dirty work for me.

9 Comments on “Variations on a stream

  1. All 3 photos resonate with me. I can see a grouping on the wall of my office. Well done.

  2. Hi Gary – Re the lonely leaf that landed upside down, I would have felt sorry for it and done just exactly what you did, in the notion that perhaps it was a gift 🙂 These are such wonderful pieces…Although the word is a bit overused, a really lovely Zen feeling accompanies all of these. They are wonderfully meditative. I really like the Nov 4 shot too but I am most intrigued but the one you rotated and the one that has the stream running from top right to bottom left and rocks diagonally opposed…What a wonderful feel that one has. I agree with the writer above – all of these would make a beautiful wall arrangement. Hope you are doing well – sorry for my patented long-winded speech here 🙂 Cheers sir!

  3. Pingback: Seeing the trees for the forest | Eloquent Nature by Gary Hart

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