Sumac bush, taken October 2020, in central Massachusetts.

Sumac is one of my favorite species to photograph in Autumn. These plants grow wild, often in meadows or near water. The colors are normally red and green, but this was a very unusual specimen that I must have caught at just the right moment of turning. Fractals in nature are another favorite subject of mine, and the endlessly repeating shapes of sumac leaves are a good example of this. I posted a much wider horizontal view of this in Landscape critique, and people were asking for a tighter view. I did have a closeup vertical of it, and felt that this version of it belonged in Flora.

Specific Feedback Requested

any critique or comments are welcome

I struggled with color saturation on this image, adding any contrast at all sent saturation off the charts. After adding some contrast to darken shadows, I de-saturated this image significantly in post. Did I find a good level of saturation, or does it need less or more ?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon 5D MKIV, Canon 24-70mm lens, at 70mm, ISO 400, 1/10 sec at f16


Wow! This is gorgeous, both in color and composition. The colors look excellent to me and not oversaturated or like they have been desaturated.

It can be frustrating how much tonal adjustments can mess with colors. I haven’t tried it in a while, but working in LAB mode can be a solution.

Based on the Sumac bushes we have here, Ed, I would say your processing is spot on. These bushes are spectacular in the fall. I also love photographing them. Beautiful photo and very nicely done.

Beautiful composition of these colorful leaves.

Ed, your color saturation looks absolutely realistic. The choice of placing the downward branch as the center works well for the composition. I always worry about which sumac variety is poisonous, so I step back and use a long lens when photographing the sumacs.

@Diane_Miller @linda_mellor @Carol_Nichols @Patricia_Brundage

Thanks to all of you for sharing your comments with me, I appreciate the input.

Color Saturation can be so hard to remain objective on, that’s why I wanted to run this one past the NPN sanity check.

Patricia, I believe that staghorn sumac is non-poisonous, the kind that has the maroon “horns” on the top. People even make tea from it’s flowers. But this specimen here is the poisonous variety, I think.

Ed: Wonderful colors and I agree with Patricia regarding the comp. One thing I’ve learned about capturing and processing these kind of images is that if I use a polarizer in the capture the processing seems much more straightforward. I don’t use a polarizer as much as I used to because the filter ring on my 200mm got slightly bent a couple years back and I’m generally too lazy to hand hold a filter when I’m using that lens. Plus I often seem to run out of hands. Anyway, wonderful result on this. :+1: :+1:>=))>

Hi Ed, I know the sumac around here is gorgeous in the Fall too, but mostly red, and you have captured a very colorful specimen here. I can’t begin to count all the hues of red, yellow, and green, all set off nicely by the black background. Nice detail in the enlargement also. At first I was put off by the front-most stem being centered, but with all the other stems at different angles and being in focus, the whole composition seems nicely balanced.

I like the color pallet. It has the right amount of saturation and value. I wonder about moving the central stem off center, just a little bit.

This is all about the great colors for me. Hard to imagine how one plant can do this. From a critique standpoint, I might offer that if that center purple compound leaf was more diagonal, it might create a better sense of movement in the image. But it’s still wonderful to look at.