As the frosty element suggests, I created the photograph on a very
cold morning at a time when most sensible people were sleeping.
(Whoever said artists were sensible?!) It should be noted that had
I discovered my subject after the sun had risen completely, the
warmth of the more intense light probably would have melted the

As I vividly recall, my fingers were nearly numb the entire time I
was creating the image. Despite this, I resisted the urge to retreat
to the warmth of my vehicle and instead weathered the biting cold
of my metal tripod while I maneuvered my camera into position.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, I had long become accustomed to
temperature extremes as well as other unpleasant situations and
possible dangers associated with being a nature photographer.

At least there's not a breath of cold wind to add to my discomfort
I told myself, as I adjusted my camera to record the composition I
had envisioned in my mind. It is important to count one's blessings,
whatever they may be!

While nature photographers, including myself, occasionally tweak
elements in an image such as this by moving a leaf or blade of
grass, I did nothing of the sort for this image. If I had, I very likely
would have disturbed the frost which served as a delicate edging
to the leaf as well as the numerous blades of grass.

Immediately upon releasing my camera's shutter, I knew that I
had created a strong composition. One which remains so to this
day. While the leaf was literally frozen at the time that I found it,
it has long since been frozen in time as a result of my photograph.
Like all works of art, an artist discovers something important to
him or her, interprets it artistically, then preserves it for the future.
The photograph of the frosted leaf featured in this SPOTLIGHT is one of the images in my book, Above The C&D...The Nature of
Northern Delaware
, published in 2005 (a second edition is currently in development). It is also one of my most popular fine art prints
among collectors. Why do you suppose that is? Let's find out by examining what makes this image tick.

First of all, the primary subject within this composition is a single oak leaf. I see this subject as being the "star" of the image, with the
blades of grass as well as the smaller leaves as the supporting cast.

A photograph of a leaf may seem like a very simple image to create. Not so. The same visual considerations which go into an
expansive landscape photograph also go into photographing a close-at-hand subject. This includes such aspects as the quality of
light, color, form and texture. In the case of this particular image, the muted colors of the brown leaf and green grass illuminated with
early morning light, as well as the angle of the leaf in relation to the grasses, work in harmony to create a feeling of visual movement
in a still photograph.
I believe that this image has become very popular for two reasons. First of all, the composition is a visual lesson in natural
harmony. Second, and more importantly, the image reminds us of the fact that the leaf was once attached to a tree. One of many
which sprouted and grew, lived its life fully and beautifully, then dropped to the ground where upon it would ultimately decay and
be absorbed back into the tree from which it fell. In other words, this image illustrates a connection to an eternal timeline of which
we are all a part. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the viewer somehow taps into this and is drawn to it.

Now that we've gone inside the image in an effort to examine the artistic qualities, let us consider the following. A mighty oak tree
is especially mighty because of all the leaves which comprise it. Even in winter, the leaves which once adorned the tree's
branches, having fallen to the ground, are a testament to the beauty and majesty which was once present and, as I see it, a
harbinger of things to come.

An oak tree which has stood the test of time, weathered all the storms that nature threw at it, yet stands triumphantly, is a
metaphor for the times we are living in. There is so much greed and deception in the world that a wise man might think it prudent
to head for the hills. Unfortunately, the hills aren't just alive with the sound of music, but are faced with the same dangers as well.

As an artist, I too have witnessed the tests of time in my own journey. I have weathered the storms, grown wiser, and realized
that while my days on this Earth may be brief in comparison to an oak tree or mountain, I am no less significant. All things in
nature are equal...from a single grain of sand to the grandest vista. What I have to say as an artist is important. What I have to
say is true. What I have to say is as lasting as anything can be.

A single leaf from an oak tree, once waving high above in a summer's breeze, now tossed to the earth and adorned with a
winter's frost, is still as beautiful as it ever was. In a sense, a frozen oak leaf is waiting in a sort of hibernation to nourish the tree
from which it came. Waiting for the day when it will once again regain its place in the sun. All of its leafy companions are doing
likewise. Humans can take note in this and realize that our current frigid age will eventually end as well. With any hope, brighter
days are ahead...if we so choose.

As the title of this SPOTLIGHT suggests, the leaf portrayed in the image represents many leaves. The same can be said for
each member of the human race. With this in mind, perhaps the greatest lesson that a tree can teach us is that there is not
only strength in unified numbers, but beauty and magnificence to admire as well!
Inside the Image
Photography and Text By Douglas Schwartz
All content in this SPOTLIGHT © copyright Douglas Schwartz. All rights reserved.
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