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Frosted Forest Floor No.1 — Wake County, NC © jj raia

So what does the title of this post really signify? Read through to the end to find out the truth.


The temperatures had dropped to 30ºF overnight, with almost no wind, making the conditions perfect for frost one morning in late November. So I headed out to find some frost to photograph on some nearby autumn leaves that, at this time of year, completely carpet the ground. There was no problem finding the frost, but the difficulty was to find an interesting pattern, color combination or structure, among the homogeneous jumble of withered leaves. One thing in my favor was the cloudless sky that created the blue tones in the shadows and reflected light from the frost. The juxtaposition of the warm toned leaves and cool tones helped create a three dimensional quality to the images, but there was a bit of a race against the sun before it would reach the leaves, quickly melting the frost, and creating harsh lighting conditions, rather than the even light in the shade. During the processing, there was a slight shift in temperature to counteract some of the blue, but not eliminate it since my personal preference is to retain it, while I do realize others may not share that sentiment.

Frosted Forest Floor No.2 — Wake County, NC © jj raia

For the most part, the main interest in all the images in the post is the textural quality of the leaves themselves, the many shapes and varying amounts of decay, along with tiny bits of frost lightly covering an entire leaf, or mainly along the veins and edges, invites the viewer, of the photo and in the field, to really study the intricacies and harmony that can be found within the frame. The usual bright and saturated colors of fresh autumn leaves is left to the imagination. But these first two images mainly rely on specific arrangements and structure, easily seen in the one directly above with the central yellow leaf, surrounded by a circle of very faded frosted leaves. The top image, also shows a partly formed circle (semi-circle?), but is certainly less obvious, and might take some time to sort out.

Frosted Leaf Litter No.2 – Wake County, NC © jj raia

These next two images rely less on structure, and more on color. Although structure may play a less obvious role, it is color that creates a cohesion among the leaves, while the very last image is really a portrait of the two central leaves, and is the only one that is cropped, leaving the others the option to crop if they are ever printed. Either way, taking the time to really see what is at our feet, can create a world of our own, separate from what surrounds us, and be as joyful as we were as children, in the discoveries.


The Title Truth

As happens every autumn, after the leaves put on their show of glorious color, they fall to the ground by the millions. In the forest, they cover the ground and if looked at closely, certain interesting patterns or shapes can be discovered and photographed. Closer to home, the leaves also fall to the ground, but they become a chore rather than something to be admired. Raking leaves during this season has occurred for decades as almost a right of passage from one generation to the next. Playing in huge piles of autumn leaves is probably among the memories that most of us share, both as children and as parents. And so it was, during several consecutive days in November, I found myself raking leaves in the yard. But this year, instead of filling them into paper bags to be collected with the recycling, they were dumped along the curb, scheduled to be gathered up by some specialized town truck as it traveled the streets. The following morning, an overnight frost was coating most surfaces, and I noticed that this pile of leaves in the front of the house also had a slight coating of frost. After going out to check for the photographic possibilities, I headed back in to get the camera and tripod to see if close-ups of these frosted leaves would lose their sense of place, and seem as though they were actually taken in the forest.

And so the title: Fake Frosted Forest Floor…

Frosted Leaf Litter No.3 – Wake County, NC © jj raia

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