I love this! This is such a cool effect with the CD leaf! I know you said you don't think the CD leaf photographs very well but I think it looks really interesting! I'll bet out looks even more amazing in person!
Any CD or DVD will work, though I tend to by a stack of CDRs that have as little printing on the face as possible. Printed CDs will still show some of the art through the back of the film - which could be good or bad depending on your piece.
To remove it, all you need is an exacto knife and a metal ruler. Score the printed side of the CD (or what would normally be the print side) and then very carefully use the tip of the blade to lift the CD leaf free. It will peel right off. The material is very delicate and breaks easily, so be very careful applying each piece.
I hope this works for you, and if you would, please share the finished piece with me. I'd love to see it.