“The idea for Fall came to photographer Christopher Griffith while he was living in a Manhattan brownstone, finalizing the design for his first monograph, States (powerHouse Books, 2000). “It was mid-November,” Griffith recalls, “and the ivy on the side of my building seemed to be literally glowing outside my window. I picked a single leaf off the vine and saw that, dependent upon the angle of light and the position of the leaf, I could see the most incredible texture and color through the leaf.” Excited by this discovery, Griffith spent the next couple of days experimenting with how to capture it all onto film. That was four years ago. He has now perfected the technique of both photographing the foliage and getting it to his studio and on film before it wilts or turns brown, quite a feat as many of these fresh and delicate leaves were collected and transported personally by Griffith from hundreds of miles away.
A hyper-macroscopic analysis of the color transformations characteristic of tree foliage in the northeastern United States autumn, Fall features vivid and brilliant images of nature’s gifts, which we often take for granted. Fantastically backlit, glowing colors are transmitted through the leaves, illustrating structural and textural elements of nature never before captured on film. For this former student of research biology, the project transported Griffith back to his early days of plant biochemistry, but this time as an artist, not a scientist. “When you look at a tree that is turning, it appears to have an overall uniformity of color,” Griffith observes. “But it is only when you literally get into the tree and get personal with the individual components of that breathtaking color, that you see the truly astounding variety of that color transformation. For me, leaves are like snowflakes; no two are ever the same.”
Photographs by Christopher Griffith
Verse by Walt Whitman
Text by Dr. Philip A. Rea