Bear Claws
Springtime Melody
Taylor Creek — Zion National Park, UT — 1997

The underside of sunlit leaves produces some of the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen. Photographing them however is not the easiest proposition. You’re usually stuck underneath a tree looking up with the sky as your background or you struggle trying to simplify a crowded scene of overlapping leaves and branches neither of which is ideally suited to a successful photograph. I often visualized the type of image I desired: late afternoon low angled light, a solitary branch of isolated leaves, and an agreeable background to further emphasize the color and form that inspired me.

I came upon Springtime Melody after a long grueling hike up and down a narrow Utah canyon on a day that turned exceedingly hot. Photographically the experience had been very disappointing as well. I’d made what I thought was a final decision not to unpack my gear anymore when I saw the isolated branch of leaves through a stream bed just

beyond a thickly shrubbed ridge. Begrudgingly, I made my way up to the point, unstowed my gear, and realized that the image I’d dreamed about was right here before me.

“You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.”

- Mark Twain

It took 45 minutes to complete 2 good exposures. An afternoon wind had risen up and the delicate branch swayed in the slightest breeze. This was compounded by the fact that I had to use an 80-200mm zoom to get the composition. I’m still extraordinarily pleased with the image though the effort was not without a price. The ridge I’d ascended was spotted with poison oak which dutifully blistered my legs for 2 weeks thereafter.

Exposure: f5.6 for 1/30 second • Nikon FM-2N • Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 lens • No filter • Fuji Velvia film