Beech Leaf, Moreno Glacier - Patagonia
I must give Darran Leal credit for this photograph. When I visited Patagonia the first time, we spent a couple of hours walking on the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier, just out of El Calafate in Argentina. We visited the glacier a couple of times, watching it calve from a high vantage point that is literally right in front of the glacier's edge - and completely safe. We then took a boat over to the opposite shore and I remember being told that while the front and middle of the glacier were fairly active, the edges of the glacier are quite stable and safe for walking on.
So we went for a walk and that's when Darran pointed out these tiny beech leaves. The leaves land on the glacier's surface and then act like small blankets, using the sun's rays to heat up the ice underneath. The ice turns to water and the leaves gradually sink into the glacier. This photograph is taken with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a 100mm macro lens looking down a small hole three or four centimetres deep.
From memory, we had light overcast weather which made these photos a little easier. Bright sunshine can be problematic on ice, but then again, it's probably not too difficult to shade these leaves while you photograph them, given they are such small subjects. The leaves are no more than two centimetres long.
For the image above, the main challenge was to control the bright areas of ice surrounding the leaf. Out of the raw processor (Capture One), I was able to introduce a little more colour to the leaf and then in Photoshop, I used layers to darken down the ice, but hopefully not so much that it deadens it. You can see the image processed out of Capture One below - there aren't too many changes in the final edit.