A Norway Maple
from flower to leaf: 5 macros
May 2003


This spring I have begun tracking the growth of several different types of tree buds via macro photos. For some trees, the tracking goes all the way back to January; for others, such as the Norway maple, I began somewhat later. Although tree buds progress very slowly, there is a height of drama within a period of two weeks or so when buds and flowers open and leaves appear.

Also, note the very approximate nature of time. Spring occurs earlier in the south and later in the north, naturally. Perhaps Saddle Rock, Long Island, could be something of an average.

The first photo dates to April 30. The buds at the top of the small Norway maple were beginning to open, whereas those at the bottom remained closed. For the first photo, I used a telephoto lens to capture the merry display.

Norway maple flowers
  Both the second and the third photos were taken on May 4. All the buds were at various stages of development, and I had my choice of which to photograph.

Particularly in the more closed bud, immediately below, there is something prehistoric or uncanny in its shape, as something alien. More likely, it is a lifeform one is unaccustomed to seeing. All is well unless it were to ask, "Take me to your leader."

Norway maple bud
  The third photo shows the baby leaves beginning to separate from the main bud.
Growing Norway maple bud
  The fourth photo was taken on May 8. Nearly all the leaves of the maple were out and at least partially open. A number of varieties of Norway maple, such as this one, begin with a dark red-purple leaf that turns to green as the summer progresses.
Young Norway maple leaves
  By May 15, all the leaves were fully developed. The brilliant color of the leaf is due to its being backlit by the sun. Toward the right (and admittedly in a blur) is a small Norway maple, with some of its leaves also being backlit and some showing the dark red-purple leaf color.
Backlit Norway maple leaf
  Photo notes: The first four photos were taken with a Pentax LX. The first one was taken with the SMC 400-600mm reflex, a lens with significant macro capabilities, since it can take an image up to half life size. Photos 2 and 3 were taken with the Voigtlander 125mm macro lens, and 4 was taken with the SMC A 200mm macro lens. Photo 5 was taken with a Sony F707 (backlit photos are straightforward with a digital camera).  

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