Friday, October 19, 2012

The Turning Of The Leaves

Fall is here (even though it's still 100 degrees) and with it comes the turning of the leaves.  Which in and of it self gives way to some pretty fantastic photo-ops.  But first let's get into why leaves turn in the first place.

Leaves are essentially the food manufacturers for their corresponding plants.  During the warmer seasons the leaves are full of chlorophyll, which is what causes their predominantly green color.  Chlorophyll is the magic ingredient that makes photosynthesis possible.  It does this by converting sunlight into solar energy which it then uses to manufacture the plant's food, simple sugars, from carbon dioxide and water.  During the growing season, the plant itself replenishes the chlorophyll, which keeps the leaves looking green and masks the reds and oranges that already exist within the leaf.  As daylight and temperatures dwindle, the leaves' veins begin to close themselves off reducing water and mineral intake to the leaves.  Thus reducing the amount of chlorophyll, or green coloring, in the leaves.  With the absence of green in the leaves, the once hidden yellows and oranges take center stage.  These colors come from the ever present cartenoids, which are also responsible for giving carrots their color.  The shades spanning from red to purple are a result of anthocyanins. 

Now that you've gotten your botany lesson for the day, we'll move onto the fantastic photo-ops, or leaf peeping, as it's called.  If you're fortunate enough to live on a street lined with maple trees then you don't have to travel far to get a beautiful picture.  Whether it's a single leaf, a tree across the street or kids playing in a freshly raked pile of colorful leaves, you are guaranteed a gorgeous shot.  If you chose to venture out, you'll need to pack a little gear.  With the shorter daylight hours and the shooting options ranging from vast landscapes to up close shots, I suggest a camera backpack that has room for all of your gear.  Make sure to pack a few different lenses, a sunshade, lens filter and because of the shorter hours a solar charger that doubles as an LED flashlight to keep your camera charged and light your path home. 

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