Aspen Leaf on Marble

Marble, Colorado is a tiny town that boasts a pretty darn impressive marble quarry, a lot of awfully nice people, and some absolutely beautiful scenery. As the leaves start to change color, photographers descend upon the town. The locals call us “The Leafers”. It’s a name I embrace. I am, most definitely, a Leafer at this time of year… seeking out colorful autumn foliage like a junkie. ;)

I used a 70-200mm lens for this shot. A macro lens would have worked just as well, but I didn’t need to focus too close… and Jay had absconded with the Macro lens anyway. :) Getting the exposure right was easy – the range of light is very narrow, as you can see. Actually, the hardest part was just finding the right leaf. I wanted one with a variety of colors. Most of the aspen leaves are a brilliant golden color – and they are lovely – but I wanted one with a little more character because I knew my background would be very subtle. Once I’d found my leaf, I carried it very carefully up the road toward the huge marble blocks that lined the roadside… I didn’t want to disturb the water droplets. Then, I scanned the surface of the stone –  looking for the right vein in the marble. It took just a moment to find the one I wanted… this jagged grey line that defines my marble background. I placed my leaf, set up my camera straight overhead – on a tripod. And took a shot. Not quite right. I bent down, pushed the stem just slightly so that it curved a bit, and took another shot. I zoomed in to check the image on the back of my camera – it was perfectly sharp. Done.

In post processing, I was very careful about color balance. I didn’t want the marble to appear at all yellow – or the leaf to have any tint of blue. Slight color casts in a shot like this would really dull the photograph. I removed a few tiny specks of dirt from the rock and the leaf, and brightened up the water droplets just a tiny bit.

This is, hands down, my favorite shot from the trip. I love the contrast between the colorful foreground and the subtle background. Heck – this one just makes me smile. What do you think?

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