Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Finding the Photo: Red Maple

How hard to you work to find a photograph?  Do you ever feel that you just can't find it? 

We made a quick trip to Munroe Falls Metropark last Saturday afternoon.  It was an opportunity to get out of the house, enjoy a sunny warm day, and take in the sights.  I spotted a brilliant red maple tree and wanted to make a photograph.  I had about 10 minutes while the kids were on the playground and/or patiently waiting in the van gobbling up Pokemon on their devices.

The image above is what I saw first. A nice red tree, with plenty of interesting contrast present in the yellows and greens.  I think this is where 99% of phone photographers would stop. But what does it tell us? Does it make us feel anything?  We see colored leaves, but not much else.

From experience, I really like to shoot fall colors with backlighting streaming through the now translucent leaves after the chlorophyll has broken down. I moved closer to the tree, and underneath it, and this was the result:

Not very exciting, but we're getting somewhere.  The contrast between the red and blue is nice, but most of the photograph is just blah, because I was under multiple layers of leaves. And it's just leaves.  This photo doesn't tell the story of the tree. I needed to keep exploring.

I stepped closer to the tree, and now i've left the mowed grass and stepped into the woods. I really liked this image, it's pleasant, calm, and peaceful, but not very bold.  I wanted a stronger image.

Bam! Now we are getting somewhere.  This is a photo of a tree, not just leaves.  It tells a story.  But in this angle, the tree looks ugly.  There's little symmetry, the left fork branches off oddly, and it's lacking balance.  I needed to adjust my view to find a composition that would be pleasant and not remind me of a an Ent from Lord of the Rings

About ten steps to my left, as I crouched down on one knee, I found the shot. The two forks now complement each other while the limbs pleasantly radiate out in all directions. It's hard to believe this is the same tree. The contrasting blue sky and red leaves dominate the image, but are balanced by patches of yellow and green.

And by this point, I was being called out of the woods, with the boys ready to head home.  In just 10 minutes of deliberate picture seeking, I found my photograph.



  1. I love it! Amazing, the difference ! I need to take more time in my pictures to find the sweet spot. Very nice. The red trees have always been my favorites in the fall!

  2. Thanks for your words. Taking time to stop and enjoy the scene helps find the best perspective. It is about the photo telling a story.

    1. Most definitely Tom! You have a great eye, I'm always enjoying the world from your perspective!