The sun was bright but not overwhelming today, and I was walking along our street at about the 3:00 pm hour, which, for one reason or another, I haven’t done too much.

Figure 1. Japanese Maple. Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

So I was surprised when I seriously noticed for the first time a Japanese Maple (figure 1, the  紅葉, momiji of the title), fairly mature, growing in front of a house a few blocks to the south. These trees are quite common here, but this person has spent the time and effort to craft a bonsai wonder out of the tree. In particular, they’ve managed to create two or three quite dense knots of branches (figures 2, 3).

Today, the light was right, as you can see in figure 1, to create a luminous background while the denser leaves at the edges of my view darkened the edges like a natural vignette. So, it occurred to me that the contrast of dark sharp lines of the trunk against a luminous background with a darker vignette surround was calling for a black and white image to emphasize the play of light and shadow and the mysterious forms. So here are the same images as in figures 1, 2, and 3, only now in black and white.

Figure 4. Japanese Maple from figure 1, converted to black and white. Photo: author.
Figure 5. Japanese Maple detail from figure 2, converted to black and white. Photo: author.
Figure 6. Japanese Maple detail from figure 3, converted to black and white. Photo: author.

In figure 6 I decided to lighten the shadow tones a bit so that the texture of the bark would be visible. I like the effect, and I think the black and white images are generally superior, or perhaps I should say more interesting, than the color ones. I admit that I used an artificially imposed vignette to tame the light at the edges of all of the images.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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