The leaf of the Embaúba (Cecropia)

One of my favorite trees for photography in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil is the Embaúba (Cecropia).  When completely dried, the leaves of this plant curve inwards like a fist and reveal interesting patterns and shapes.

The leaf of the Cecropia, although green, has a somewhat silver glow that stands out against the green of the canopy (below). Sorry it’s just a cell phone photo, but does the trick. 

Embauba tree marked with a circle. The yellow trees are Handroanthus albus,” Ipê Amarelo“.

The silver glow of the Embaúba is more intense on the underside.

Underside of a partially dry Embaúba leaf

Before photographing the leaf of the Cecropia, make sure you wash it and wait for it to dry, then use a narrow aperture to get most of its tridimensional shape in focus. Don’t forget to get close (below). Black and white conversion is a little tricky because there is little contrast in the leaf. To enhance contrast, I used various post-processing techniques, including color filters, and dodging and burning.  

Detail of an Embaúba leaf

I asked my mother to take a cell phone photograph of me with one large leaf, to give a scale (below).  For photos of the various stages of this plant in nature, click here.  

Cecropia leaf and me

This leaf was the reason why I started a new project photographing dry leaves, follow up on my next post about the subject.

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

25 thoughts on “The leaf of the Embaúba (Cecropia)

    1. Thank you. I was aware of the cabbage (or lettuce?) leaf by Weston, but had somehow forgotten about it momentarily. Aging is interesting 🤔. Yes I wanted to show that the leaf is big, although this one is not particularly large and I’m somewhat short.


  1. What a difference the photo of you and the leaf made in my initial interpretations of these already beautiful images. Thanks for sharing this gem of the Amazon!


  2. Wow, you aren’t kidding about it being a huge leaf. You could probably take a series of these black and white images and have a neat project. I love the way you have dodged and burned to give it a three-dimensional appearance.


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