Todays blog is by Robert Harris. Bob is our resident expert on plants on the park. He knows more about what grows on Presque Isle than anyone I have ever met. Walking with Bob is an adventure as he dashes in and out of the woods all along where you walk. I hope you enjoy his blog on Autumn Leaves.
A string of warm sunny days and cool, (40 deg) nights are the best predictors of a colorful Fall leaf display. Of course it’s great to be in the Northeastern United States for the best viewing and photographing.
Leaves are the food factory for trees, bushes and vines which we want to photograph when they change color in the fall. Leaves use Water supplied by plant roots to manufacture Glucose, plant food. This is a process called Photosynthesis where Chlorophyll using sunlight as a power source removes Carbon dioxide from the air and combines it with the water.
Chlorophyll is the green stuff in the leaves. The chlorophyll absorbs all the red and blue light from the sun thus the reflected light of the leaf is green. As plants prepare for winter the chlorophyll disappears and the green color fades. Other colors that have been in the leaves all the time can now reflect their colors to us.
Fall colors are determined by many things from plant species to chemical actions in leaf, drought, freezes, extended unseasonable rains and cloudy days. Never precisely predictable.
Yellows and orange colors appear in hardwoods like Hickory, Ash, Birch, Black Cherry, Poplars etc.
Reds and purples are mostly in prevalent in Maples, Dogwoods, Tupelo, Virginia Creeper and various Cherries.
Brown leaves just do not have any color pigments in their makeup, so they reflect only brown. This may happen in any plant species.
Prepare for a good photo shoot by scouting out a good plot of mixed hardwoods. Really nice if it is on an East facing hillside. Set up very early in the AM to get the best lighting. The good light doesn’t last very long, only a few minutes. There is something special about sunrise and Fall leaf colors. Good luck on your shoot!
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