I shot this on a Monday afternoon while my wife and I were out on our usual walk with the kids–the same walk, on the same route, that has netted several Weekly Photos this past year. The air was chilly and the rain was falling, and little did we know it but our state was about to get hit with the worst ice storm in a long time. When I shot this photo we didn’t know any of that was coming though, and all I was thinking about was how the lightly falling rain just bordering on sleet would make for some interesting photo opportunities. Unfortunately I didn’t really see anything until I noticed this lone read leaf as we were making our way back home. My wife and the kids went on ahead while I paused to see if I could capture a good shot, and I think it worked pretty well.
One thing I ask myself when taking a photo, almost any photo, is what I want the viewer to focus on. If the answer isn’t immediately apparent, it’s usually not a great photo. (Though not always, as there certainly are exceptions to this.) I saw a lot of trees, leaves, branches, twigs, and other things on our walk that looked interesting in person but didn’t make for great pictures. Without a clear subject, or contrasting elements between the subject and the other elements, nearly all the things I saw just didn’t turn out to be great photographs. This one leaf sure did though, and by itself I think it would have been just fine but the rain and ice added a bit of a shine to it (as well as subtle touches to the surrounding scene) that elevated the image to a better place. At least in my opinion anyway.
I didn’t have long to take this shot since I didn’t want to make my family wait in the rain and cold, so I had to make a few quick compositional and exposure decisions on the fly. I shot it so enough of the leaf was against a green background to make it really stand out, especially the bottom tip with the drop of ice. I also shot this at f/2.8 to get a good compromise between sharpness and background blur, and when I looked at my two or three version that I shot at f/1.8…sure enough, the background was smooth but the leaf was just a bit too blurry. I also got this with my trusty D7100 and 50mm f/1.8 combo, and as I have said many times recently it’s still fun to shoot with that even after all these years.