There’s a wonderful woodland park near Lake Lansing, Michigan. It has hiking trails that are enjoyable in all seasons. But autumn is my favorite time year to be there. On one gusty fall day, I was very slowly making my way through the forest, scanning for some detail that might really catch my attention. I photographed groups of sassafras leaves. The light wasn’t quite right. Then I found a hazel bush that only had a few leaves left. The light was good, but the sun was setting so fast that by the time I was set up for the shot, the light quality had diminished.
Walking on, I spotted the scene in the image you see here. There was only one full leaf remaining on this bush. The way that the low-angle sun illuminated it was stunning. Strong gusts were blowing branches and leaves around. Everything in the forest seemed to be in motion. Getting a shot with clear detail was very difficult. After numerous attempts, I finally I got a crisp photograph of the leaf—during one of the very brief moments when it was still.
Wind rushing through branches rendered the rest of the image blurry—a delightful watercolor-like background of soft shapes. I like that look. The combination of stillness and motion in a single image is an interesting and pleasing effect.