Twists and Turns

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


My brother and I made a recent trip to Hershey Gardens, PA to specifically photograph these beautiful Japanese maples adorned with their autumn colors. We waited until we had a rainy drizzly day so as to saturate the fall colors. The limbs with the multitude of shapes and angles they take is totally amazing . It gives them a sense of grace and character IMO.

The trees are tall enough so that you can stand inside and look for different gnarly shapes. For this particular image I had one leg of the tripod straddling another limb situated just below and to the right of this one. Before anyone asks that yellow leaf is just as I found it; that is what originally caught my eye.

Specific Feedback

Overall I am pleased with the image, but if you notice anything please feel free to mention it. The back limbs are a little OOF as the eight image stack was not quite enough. Does that bother anyone?

Technical Details

Nikon Z7, Nikon 24-200 @ 44mm, f 11 @0.6 sec, ISO 100, CPL, cable release & tripod.


Hi Ed,

Very well done photo. The trunk and branches lead you into the image. As a curiosity on my part, why did you stack the images?

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Really beautiful picture. It immediately drew my eye into the picture. the colors are stunning and it felt like I am taking a wild ride on this twisting branch . The only part that took me a little away from this was the little brown mud area on the low left corner. as everything else is so full of color it stands out. maybe you can clone a little grass to it from above it or crop a little from the left side. But other than that really wonderful picture.

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This has such implied movement in the frame! Glad the leaf is natural. I’ve taken advantage of nature’s gifts when this happens, too, and so I rarely move anything into a frame. The shapes of the leaves in the canopy is very swoopy and open so it works well with the nature of the branch. I like the contrasting green, too.

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Thanks everyone @Cameron_Wilcox, @tamar-aharony and @_Kris for the kind words; always appreciated.

@Cameron_Wilcox : I was @ 44mm @ f11 and that yellow leaf was only a couple of feet away so after checking my Photo Pills app I knew I needed to stack. Hope that helps.

@tamar-aharony : I will see what I can come up with on that mulch.

@_Kris : I too rarely move anything into the frame, but this was serendipity so I tried to make the most of it.

It does. Thanks Ed. Definitely an area of my photography that i need work on.

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That’s a very characterful limb and the spreading twisty branches moving out give this a sense of motion. The colors are wonderful. I’m with Tamar on the LLC - it feels odd. The other thing that caught my eye is the “horizon” at the top. It breaks the rhythm of the twisty branches, I think. Perhaps dodging the dark bits in the far background at the top would minimize that.

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I like the perspective that showcases the limbs. It is quite a striking image. I agree with @tamar-aharony about the LLC and @Bonnie_Lampley about the horizon.

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Wow, Ed, this image is outstanding! I love the colors and textures–especially how the dark bark leads the eye up the tree and back down again. Especially nice touch to include the beautiful yellow leaf on the trunk in the foreground. I wouldn’t change a thing! Great work!

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Ed, this is a beautiful look at this Japanese Maple. Yes, I started out expecting that you’d placed that leaf. How much better to find that nature placed that for you (or maybe a previous photog…way too much cynicism on my part…). I’m loving the twisty branch leading to the spread of yellow and orange leaves. Since these trees are not native to the USA, seeing the bits that show this is a garden setting don’t bother me at all.

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Thanks so much everyone @Bonnie_Lampley, @DeanRoyer, @ann and @Mark_Seaver for your thoughts and suggestions; always appreciated. I did a little dodging along with a small CCW rotation to make the dark treeline on top of that hill a little less noticable. Still working on the mulch area in the LLC. I intend on making a print of this based on your suggestions so thanks again!

@Ed_Lowe , thanks for sharing your beautiful capture with us! We have a very famous Japanese Maple in Portland (even before Peter Lik, it was famous :grinning:), so it is refreshing to see one from somewhere else with a much different POV. I really like the leading lines with the leaf in the foreground. As for the focus stack, did you do that manually or in camera? I have the Z7ii and I find it ridiculously easy to just use touch AF on the back LCD to set focus points manually. Also, this image seems very yellow-green to me. Have you tried playing with the color calibration tool on this one? Also, I might consider lightening up some of the branches in the back that almost black. Finally, if you are not too much of a purist, maybe you could clone out or use CAF for the area in the top right of the frame. Just a few ideas. Great job on seeing and capturing this image!