Folhas Secas, a new project

A project I started while I was in Brazil consists of photographing decaying leaves. Walking about my mother’s backyard, I noticed that the vegetation was very dry, contrasting with the lush, green forest of past years. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to photograph “something”, I decided to explore what was available. I think that it was a good decision, since the fall is about to start in the USA and plenty of material will be forthcoming.

photography project, as I understand it, is a somewhat unified, cohesive body of work that employs the same concept, technique, subject, and or palette throughout multiple photographs. Working in projects can be an excellent way to improve one’s skills and explore a particular theme or style in greater detail.  It also helps the photographer to remain focused and avoid being pulled in various directions like a leaf in the wind.

The subject in the photo above called my attention for its unusual shape, texture, and the intricate detail of the veins. I have not attempted to identify the tree it came from, but I know that it is a common tree in the Atlantic Forest. Compare and contrast this leaf with the Cecropia leaf from a previous post.

When photographing a subject from close, it is a good idea to wash or clean it first. Start with a setup as clean as possible, and avoid hours of cloning in post-processing. Furthermore, pieces of dust, dirt and hair cannot always be effectively removed from the photograph. After I collected the leaves from the ground, I washed them with water and left them to dry in a laundry rack.

For the background, I used a black cardboard I bought in the “papelaria” (the store where you buy paper in Brazil). It is important, when devising projects that might be executed away from one’s studio, to pick materials and tools that can be found practically anywhere. Black cardboard, white cardboard for reflection and diffusing materials like bubble plastic, thin sheets of tracing paper etc, will be the tools used for this project.

In Folhas secas, part two, I talk more about this project.

29 thoughts on “Folhas Secas, a new project

  1. Steve Gingold says:

    This is very nice and a good start on a project. Even if the same species of tree, leaves dry in so many shapes you could just follow that path or find similar shapes among other species. It should be fun and fun for us to see how you progress. I’ve done a few leaves but entirely differently with them backlit to highlight the venation. Here is my one post of some. I admit that they are fairly straight forward and not as creative as what you have done here. It’s interesting to read your thoughts on processing choices and how you deal with your subjects.

    I like the shape of this leaf, the way the veins curve, and that cute curlycue stem that is so sinuous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. joearf says:

    I’m very excited to see more. Dry leaves are some of my favorite things to look at while walking around in the woods (or the yard). Live live green leaves are find, but the dead and dry ones have so much more character. The featured image above: I could look at it for a very long time ant not get tired of tracing the lines and curves with my eyes.


  3. shoreacres says:

    I’m glad that Steve Schwartzman linked to your site. I’ve seen you commenting often, but sometimes that little nudge is needed for a visit to take place. Our approaches differ in some respects, but I’m looking forward to learning from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. juergen61 says:

    Greart picture Alessandra…go on ! Please take a look to old german photographers like Karl Blossfeldt , or Irving Penn/ USA , may be there is some inspiration for your work… Best regards, Jürgen


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