One autumn morning, I found myself walking through the canyons of the southwest with my camera. It was a quiet and overcast morning, with the occasional melody of the canyon wren and the overhead rustling of cottonwood tree leaves. I walked through the towering maze of red rock walls along the river. I came across puddles along the shore of the river, and in these puddles, were the spent leaves from the foliage above. I thought to myself for a moment how sad it was to see these leaves. For just a week or so ago, they had given an incredible display of yellows, oranges, and reds. But now, they had been dispersed to the ground below, and some had ended up in these puddles.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed that these leaves were sitting in a pool of unusual colors. The leaves themselves were decaying, but the water around them was transforming into a rainbow of color. As the leaves were rotting, they were releasing organic matter into the puddles. This "biofilm" they produce in turn creates oils in the pools of water. These oils were so bright and colorful that it was hard to imagine that it had started with a dead, brown leaf. The leaves were done with their autumn performance in the trees above, and they were now still creating beauty on the ground in these puddles. I found these small scenes very intriguing to photograph. Some leaves were buried in the oil, and some were still floating on top of it. Others had created a canvas of color around them, and some seemed to be floating on ribbons of color. It was an interesting lesson from nature that even in death, beauty can remain.