I can not recall such a beautiful Fall as this year’s has been. Lots of warm days, cools nights. Sky has the deep cobalt blue coloring and, when there are clouds, they are big and fluffy which add to the splendor. The weather has helped to bring out the most colorful leaves as the trees prepare for the long winter ahead. I’ve read other local photographers who were just in awe of the display found all over upstate New York from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks to the Catskills. The rest of New England has also been enjoying one of their most colorful autumns ever remembered
Why do leaves turn color? The shorting day and cooler temperatures start the processes in the deciduous forests in the northern hemisphere this time of year.
During the growing season, most tree leaves are green because they’re full of chlorophyll. The high amount of chlorophyll obscures other leaf pigments, carotenoids (which produce yellow, orange and brown colors) and anthocyanins (which provide reds and purples).
Cooler weather causes chlorophyll production to slow and eventually stop, so the carotenoids and anthocyanins in the leaves become visible. Oaks, maples and dogwoods have anthocyanins and turn brilliant reds and oranges. Aspens, birch, populars and hickories use carotenoids and have the bright golden yellows and bronze. I’ve noticed the golden yellow this year more than most but this week the red and orange of the many maples around me took over.
Varying fall temperatures and precipitation amounts affect the intensity of colors. For more on the science of autumn changes, visit my college alta mater, SUNY-ESF E-Center.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you a couple of links on how best to capture all the wonderful colors during this season: