Fallen Leaves Create Evocative Still-Lifes in Riverside Park

By Mildred Alpern

What happens to the autumn leaves that drift from the beech, oak, and ginkgo trees that line the pathway entering Riverside Park at 91st Street and Riverside Drive? They scatter and nestle in random compositional arrangements, alongside the bordering wire fences.

In the 17th and 18th century, Dutch and Flemish Still Life painters captured flowers and fruit in meticulous detail with a mix of rich colors and textures.

The park’s fallen leaves mirror this genre of the Old Masters with their combination of colors and leaf detail. In addition to the flaming red, orange, and yellow colors of trees, the beauty of autumn can be discovered at our feet in the kaleidoscopic patterns of leaves that have drifted downward and settled into “Still Life” tableaux.

OUTDOORS | 26 comments | permalink
    1. Cindy CIsler says:

      Lovely photos!
      Many thanks.

    2. Roseann Milano says:

      Who took the photos????

    3. Amy Wolf says:

      These are stunning. Thank you for providing them.

    4. John N. Mercer says:

      Wondering whether there’s been some manipulation to intensify the collars.

    5. Kathleen says:

      Beautiful photos, the colors are so pretty! Thanks for sharing them!

    6. NN says:

      Beautiful! Looking at this article was like having a break and a cup of tea. <3

    7. Jeff brumbeau says:

      Beautiful way to start the day, Mildred. Thank you. Do you happen to know what type of tree the blue leaves in the first photo came from? I forwarded your pictures to a friend who is an Autumn junkie and she says she has to have those trees in her yard.

      • They are the underside of leaves, perhaps from a bush, Jeff. I will try to find out on my next excursion to see changes.

      • TD says:

        I don’t think those leaves are actually blue– It’s just the lighting. They’re probably dark green. Notice how one of the green gingko leaves near the bottom of that photo also looks blue, and there are bluish spots on the oak leaves as well.

    8. JerryLou says:

      What kind of camera was used. Any filters ?

      • I used the Olympus E-M5 with the prime Olympus M.45mm lens on the third and sixth shots and the zoom Olympus M.12-50mm on the other images. No filters were used. All were taken as raw images and minimally processed in Lightroom.

    9. Barbara Adler says:

      Gorgeous colors and patterns. Each could be a painting. Wonderful eye. Thanks.

    10. Sarah says:

      Very nice!

    11. Annette R Lieberman says:


    12. RS says:

      Beautiful shots Mildred.

    13. MB/UWSer says:

      Truly beautiful!

    14. Daniel A says:

      Always good to have a botanist in the neighborhood. Regarding the blue leaves….
      The stalk of each leaf segment appears to be swollen and cylindrical (botanically a pulvinus). Pulvini occur in Legumes (Bean family) and a few other plant families. The Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) is one of the few Leguminous trees in our area with leaves anything like these. I believe the blue “leaves” are actually a portion of a Gymnocladus dioicus leaf. The true leaves are actually quite large and complex. But there are many exotic plants cultivated in our gardens with which I am not familiar.

    15. CAL says:

      Clearly an artiste.

    16. Susan Morton says:

      Beautiful and so inspiring….Thanks! It makes me want to walk and walk and try to capture a bit of the fall!

    17. Martha says:

      An eye for the beauty in nature – a little bit of heaven.Thank you!

    18. Jeff brumbeau says:

      Thank you again Mildred.

      And thank you Daniel for the assist.

    19. Andrew A. says:

      Brava, Mildred. They’re all lovely- the header shot particularly stunning.