Bigtooth Maples - Yosemite NP

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I’ve always loved shooting these trees, which choke the rugged edges of the valley on the north side, competing for space among the fallen boulders beneath the cliffs. Some of the leaves are 10 inches across. They put on a show in late October, so I though if I wandered in among them deep enough, I could get a sort of exploding constellation effect with a wide angle lens.

Specific Feedback

I keep working this image on the computer, trying to make it stronger. I have no doubt that shooting it in shade after rain was a good plan, but somehow it strikes me as dull. Also, the dominant yellows and light greens seem to overwhelm the scene, when I want them to pop like stars in a dark sky. Also, I needed a subject, so chose the big leaf at lower left. But it doesn’t seem strong enough, although I have punched up the contrast to emphasize texture and water drops.

Technical Details

14MM, F16, 1/8 sec., ISO 250, tripod, Olympus EM1.

I love maple leaves! The bigleaf maple we have a lot of around here is one of my favorite trees. That big guy in the lower left is a charmer. I wonder if there was an angle available to move him a little more toward the center and fill that gap to his right? If not, this still works well.

At full size, the contrast is really strong around the smaller details; I’d consider dialing that back just a tad.

You could try reducing the luminosity of the non-yellow colors to help them do that. Maybe something like this?

Thanks John – always good to meet another Maple leaf shooter.
Now I’m thinking shade was the right light, but maybe brighter shade. Guess I’ll have to go back and try again.
What is your location? True northeast Maple country? Midwest? West?


I think you did well to isolate the big solitary leaf. Photographing these trees, especially in the valley, the granite and towering walls - is a challenge to say the least!

I like John’s idea of dropping the luminosity in the other areas/tones to get this one leaf to stand out a bit more. I tried, but wasn’t working very well since this is already a compressed jpg and not the original RAW.

I think John’s leaf is a little more yellow and less contrasty. I think your original is a just a little off in color/sat as my recollection is these leaves are pretty straight yellow and don’t have much orange.

Which reminds me - and not that this is imporant… but these are “Bigleaf” maple as John referenced as well. It’s ok - I had to google myself, but there is a “Bigtooth” maple, also found in the West, but like other maples the Bigtooth will turn red in the fall. The “Bigleaf” maple does not turn from yellow. But I would say they’re brothers or cousins… :slight_smile:

When were you there? I was there the 5th-7th. And this looks like may be near Fern Spring - but of course could be anywhere in the valley.

As much chaos as this includes, I think you were very successful in making this about the giant Bigleaf maple leaves and have captured the experience of Yosemite Valley in the fall.


Pacific Northwest :slightly_smiling_face:.

Thanks much Lon. Although shooting in shade was probably best, brighter shade would have been better.
This was shot somewhere down the one-way road from Bridalveil, that lower end of the valley. Felt pretty wild, no trail – I was half expecting either a bear or a falling rock. Also, it was rather amusing to try to set the tripod in a couple of inches of mouldering leaf litter and pine needles. I’m definitely going to try again.
And I stand corrected on the Maple name! I will set my sights on the Bigtooths (Bigteeth?) when they next turn color.