Leaf-Peep Show

Now that the leaves are starting to crackle under our feet more than sparkle on the trees, I thought it was time for a retrospective of some of the photos I’ve taken in the parks so far this season.  Since we’ll be posting snow photos before you know it, I’m having fun looking back at a lovely fall.

(In other photo news, you can now purchase a 2011 calendar at our online store featuring some of my favorite park photos that I’ve taken this year.  And since the holiday season is coming up, I’d love some feedback on what types of items you think would make good gifts.  If you ask–or comment on this post–we’ll try to accommodate with some new items in the store!)

We’ll get started back in September, when a lot of the brightness has faded from the summer landscape and sometimes I have to look very closely for something interesting to photograph.  This one is from the meadow behind the Frick Environmental Center, where I found a black swallowtail caterpillar lounging on some Queen Anne’s Lace. 


Another early-fall pleasure every year is the wildflowers that grow under the Panther Hollow Bridge in Schenley Park. The bees and I are big fans.

Panther Hollow Bridge

During a morning volunteer day in Schenley Park, I noticed how lovely the pattern of horse chestnut leaves was against the sky.

Horse chestnuts

This shot of Nine Mile Run was taken after a sudden, violent thunderstorm in September. The clouds parted and left such a beautiful mist behind.

Nine Mile Run

You might recall I spent a good part of springtime in love with the redbuds. They’re no less fun in the fall.


Phil’s plan to install Japanese stewartia trees around the Mellon Park Walled Garden yielded pretty blooming flowers in a season where most trees are just green. In the fall these trees produce blue berries. I was lucky enough to catch one on a rainbow-leaf type of day.

Japanese stewartia

On particularly gray days, I try to liven things up by doing something a little different.  For a walk in Highland Park, I used my Lensbaby to shoot this graceful, sprawling tree near the Super Playground.  The Lensbaby bends according to where you point it and blurs out all but a “sweet spot” of focus.  In this case I made the sweet spot the trunk and blurred out the crown, but it’s fun to experiment and see which effect you like best.  

Lensbaby tree

There wasn’t much light left after work one night, but I headed over to the Reynolds Street gatehouse in Frick Park anyway because I figured I should catch these trees before they drop all their leaves.

Frick gatehouse

I do get a little obsessed with both lens flare and putting the camera in a leaf pile.

Grounded leaves

One Friday I went to lunch and the light outside was uncommonly gorgeous.  So I decided to spend the afternoon in Highland Park, where a gathering thundershower provided some beautiful backdrops for the shining yellow leaves.  I had three lenses with me, so I photographed this tree three ways.  First, with a 20mm wide angle lens:

Highland tree wide-angle

Then, with a 100mm macro:

Highland tree macro

And then with the Lensbaby.

Highland tree Lensbaby

Lake Carnegie was also looking quite lovely that day.

Lake Carnegie

I made it up to my car from the lake right as the rain began to pour.  I sat for a while and just enjoyed it from the comfort of my car, and then drove back around to Memorial Grove, where the leaves were too pretty to pass up.

Rainy leaf

Then I headed over to Nine Mile Run in Frick Park to end the day.  The leaves were still covered in droplets over there too (and yeah, I did arrange the pic on the left, although I’m sure such a leaf pile probably existed somewhere in the vicinity.)

Nine Mile Run

The sumacs were practically glowing.


Later that weekend, post-Steelers game, I made a visit to Riverview Park and found a lovely study in color contrast.

Riverview orange leaves

This one is from an evening walk in Schenley where I just happened to have an actual zoom lens to capture the moon.

Schenley moon

I walked over the Panther Hollow Bridge and took an aerial shot down into the park.  It certainly is a busy canvas from above.

Schenley aerial

Frick Park had a golden moment when I visited the Braddock Trail.  People were out all over, riding bikes, walking, and chatting by the tennis courts.

Frick recreation

Another obvious “hey, leaves look great against a blue sky” shot.

Red leaves

Our Schenley Park Master Plan Update meeting fell on a beautiful, warm Saturday.  These are both from about the same spot near Phipps Conservatory.

Schenley Saturday

Another post-Steeler Sunday shot, from a stunning afternoon in Highland Park.  If I had to pick the most perfect day of fall, I’d say this was probably it.

Highland stroll

I couldn’t quit staring at this leaf pile from all the way across the park.  I came back a couple of days later and it was gone.

Highland leaf pile

Walking around the reservoir and the entry garden.

Reservoir and entry garden

Early-morning meeting about signage in Schenley Park. 

Schenley Park Cafe

I went up to the Schenley Park Overlook to check out how Phil’s elm trees were doing, and got another rainy-leaf shot with the city in the background.

Schenley and city

This is one of my consistent favorite fall places to shoot–through the ginkgoes to the blue building behind them in Highland Park.

Highland ginkgoes

Lake Carnegie again, this time full of happy ducks.

Ducks on Lake Carnegie

Memorial Grove was once again soaked, so this time I hovered the camera over the pool of water.

Leaf pool

And finally, a little trip to Riverview Park’s dog run, where this adorable Sheltie was chasing squirrels.

Riverview dog park

Hope you’ve been enjoying the fall!  If you’ve got some great photos, post them to our Flickr group!

6 thoughts on “Leaf-Peep Show

  1. Hi, Melissa. Very nice fall photos. I was wondering if I could use them as a backdrop for lyrics at our small church as I use powerpoint presentations for that and I am always looking for great photos to use. Sometimes I use my own but I have to lookup images and motion backgrounds a lot as I do not have a budget to get a professional camera and I like to use others beautiful shots because I see the amazing art in everyones photos. Thanks let me know soon.

  2. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures. It’s so refreshing to hear of something in Pittsburgh about “gold” that isn’t “black and gold”!!

  3. Your photos are beautiful. I walked in Frick park that day also with my toy camera and I enjoyed these colors but your pictures are so much better!

  4. Pingback: Daffodil Vintage 4: Saturday in the Park » Here's to It

  5. Pingback: Daffodil Vintage 4: Saturday in the Park » Here's to It

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