October 01, 2018  •  5 Comments

When I think of photographic backdrops, I tend to visualize a studio with assorted lights and muted fabrics serving as settings for portraiture or product photography.  But backdrops are almost endless, particularly in New Mexico, where they can range from our seemingly endless blue skies, to sand, and to adobe and rock walls, as well as vegetation.  Given the abundance of fall color this year, I spent a windy day working with background possibilities and aspen leaves.

The first example, below, was shot with my 70-200 mm lens against a wood balustrade painted white.  The short depth of field keeps the detail in the wood at a minimum to bring full attention to the leaf colors and shape.

aspen closeups 3aspen closeups 3


The green of other aspen leaves as well as a touch of blue sky provide the backdrop for this branch of aspen leaves, in varying shades and conditions.

aspen closeups 4aspen closeups 4


The off-white of trunks and green leaves let the color in this shot come to the fore.

aspen closeups 2aspen closeups 2


As backdrop, muted tones of soil, adobe, and sandstone give a slightly different feel to this branch. 

aspen closeups 1aspen closeups 1

As artist and photographer Sam Taylor once said to me (I am paraphrasing) "If you consider yourself an artist, you have to work at your art every day."  Every day, I either use my cameras or work with photographs in Lightroom, or look at other works of art, and each time I do, I learn something.  The world is an enormous and endless photography school, and I want to make the most of it. 

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Steve Immel(non-registered)
I'm impressed with the way you explore ideas and that you practice your art everyday. It really shows. Identifying backdrops as the variable was brilliant. Each shows the aspens just a little differently and to a very different effect. I like that you've used a shallow depth if field which really highlights the aspen leaves themselves. A cool set, Daryl.
Dianne James(non-registered)
LOL, I asked Chili what backdrop you used for the aspen leaves. "Snow", he said matter of factly. He was surprised it was a balustrade!
Dianne James(non-registered)
I would agree with you and Sam on the every day thing. It does make an incredible difference. As for backdrops, isn't it amazing how the same type of subject is completely changed when the background is changed. Some of that may be how our eyes perceive color and light. In the first photo, I thought you had photographed the leaves on a snowy day- the balistrade looked like a backdrop of snow. Great, as always, Daryl.
Wayne Gesterfield(non-registered)
I like the first shot the best. Nice muted color.

Wind is not your friend, especially for closeups of fragile fall leaves.
Sara Woodburn(non-registered)
Thank you for this. Your words and images always inspire!
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