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When I was a kid, we called the seeds from maple trees ‘whirligigs’ since they would twirl and spin as they fell to the ground. On a blustery day, it could actuallyappear as though it were snowing as millions of these seeds were sent aloft from the canopy of the maples. We would gather the fallen seeds in our hands and toss them up into the air, gleefully watching them twirl to the ground once again.  

“Rabbit Ears” (Maple Tree Seeds) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/8, 1/60s, -0.7EV, ISO 400, Built-in Rear Curtain Flash, -2.0EV, ‘Old West’ Antique Toning Action

Finding a pair of seeds still attached was quite the lucky score today and photographing them back-lit by the sun highlighted all the delicate lacy details. (I actually shot the seeds in black & white but felt a warmer tone worked better in the finished image).  

Enjoy! 🙂


  1. I love the texture, the simplicity and the symmetry. I love watching them float down as well. Of course we didn’t have near where I grew up.

    • Thank you, Jan! Yes, they are lovely watching them whirl and twirl….less so when you are sweeping them up off the driveway! lol! 🙂

  2. We used to call them helicopters 🙂
    The detail is beautiful, and I really like your conversion, too.

    I usually prefer color photos and because of that have never shot in b&w, I just convert afterwards.

    • I’ve heard that term, too. Come to think of it, I think we used both! 🙂

      I typically shoot in color but sometimes, I find it a good exercise to switch to black & white in camera. It really helps to focus my attention away from color and more towards composition and texture. You should try it sometime!

      Thanks, Michaela! 🙂

  3. oh yes! I remember them although I’ve not seen any in the desert. Your post clearly causes me to remember being a child. There’s magic in that.

    • Hi Tammy – thanks! Your words are so kind and made me smile this morning! 🙂

  4. Wow this is a really nice image. I like the tones in the photo, it goes well with your story.

    • Thank you, Consuelo! I guess for some reason when I think ‘childhood memory’ I immediately think ‘antique tone’ – lol!:-)

  5. I think I have seen these before, but they definitely are not part of my common childhood memories.

    This image is great. I bet the detail at full-size of the veining in the wings is killer.

    • Thank you, Sean! The veining and shape of the seeds is exactly I wanted to highlight. The ‘wings’ are like paper and I found many single seeds with damaged areas. The seed on the bottom actually has a small chunk taken out and at first, I was disappointed. But through photography, I’ve come to learn that even damaged things have their own beauty, and sometimes, make the image more interesting than if everything had been ‘perfect’.

      I struggle with the name on this one…not sure it will stick. Based upon your comment, ‘Angel Wings’ might be better! 🙂

  6. I grew up only a few towns away from you and we called them helicopters like Michaela did. As I’m thinking we are probably close in age, I’m not sure I like you referring to childhood in terms of “antique!” 😉 LOL

    • lol! For some reason, probably the chilly temps, I am feeling my age these days (but I’m sure once summer rolls around, I will snap out of it!) 🙂

  7. very cool lacy details in the “wings!” backlit by the sun, you say? do you have a blanket behind it or something? the black background looks awesome.

    • I was wondering when someone was going to ask that! Actually, the black background is courtesy of my lens hood. I just plopped it behind the seed since the light was coming from above (I know, above and still backlit?? Yeah.) Since it is so closeup, it works like a charm. (Hey, you use what you’ve got in the field!!)

      Thank you, Stephen! 🙂

  8. Beautiful simplicity and composition. What intriguing form and texture and the warm monotone is perfect 🙂

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