Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall colors, and other things New England

I spent a day this weekend in the woods of north-central Massachusetts. It was cold and crisp... perfect end of fall weather. I looked for bugs and found very few. I flipped over rocks in a small (freezing!) stream and didn't find any, and was equally unsuccessful under bark of a rotting log, and digging in the soil. I suppose it is to cold for them, but I am curious where they go to. I was reminded that fall is my favorite time in New England, and that (even though it is currently snowing... in mid-October) I am thrilled to be back living in the land of the wonderful Fall.

I learned something about Fall colors this weekend too. The yellow and orange pigments seen in leaves are there all the time, but are normally obscured by the dominant chlorophyll pigments. The gorgeous red, however, are a different story. The red pigments (phycocyanins, if I remember correctly) are made by the plant as it begins to dismantle its chlorophyll and retrieve valuable Nitrogen from the leaves before they fall off. You tend to see red pigments on the top and outermost leaves, and this is because it is triggered by light (so it doesn't occur as much in the shade). This red pigment (the supermodel of all New England fall foliage photo shoots) acts as an umbrella for the leaf cells that are doing the equivalent of removing parts from a power plant without being able to turn off the power source.

I also learned how to stitch photos together and create panoramic images. Here is one that is the opposite of a panorama, but I am not sure what you call that!

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