The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ribbons, Leaves, and Pink Lemonade

The results of the photo contest at the fair are in. This is the third year that I have entered photos in the contest. The first two years I brought home two ribbons each year (a first, third, fifth and sixth). This year I brought home four ribbons (two thirds, a fifth and sixth). It is interesting when I look back at these and realize that out of eight ribbons over three years, only one has been for a color photo. This analysis would make someone think I am pretty good at color, but way better at black and white. I have never thought that I was any better at one or the other. I do like black and white photography quite a bit. Maybe I will concentrate on it more.

This makes me think more about the photos I took at Oakland Cemetery a couple weeks ago. I could not decide if I preferred a shot in color or black and white and some the black and white versions of my shots did win out hands down.

This is not a great time of year to not be "into" color though. The leaves are about to hit their peak for the season. This year is certainly not one of the best, but the colors I am seeing from the woods are enticing to say the least.

I have been watching the sumac at the edge of the woods in our yard. The leaves are turning that vibrant crimson color. In my yard I have many Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) shrubs growing at the edge of the wooded area. The foliage is pretty in summer when i t is green, but in the fall it turns a beautiful red.

The other variety common to this area is Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina). Sumac is part of the cashew family, yes, those delicious little nuts! Let's not confuse this Sumac with Poison Sumac. Native Americans used the fruit of Sumacs (Staghorn and Smooth) to make a pink lemonade of sorts. The fruit is collected, soaked and washed in cold water; this liquid is strained and sweetened to make the drink. No, I have not tried it.

Native Americans also have used the leaves and berries of the Smooth and Staghorn sumac mixed with tobacco as a smoking mixture. Sumac provides a tannin that will produce white or light-colored leather that is soft and supple. The roots of the Smooth Sumac yield a yellow dye.

I have some beautiful fall photos of the Sumac in my yard, the red leaves against the bright blue fall sky, a very striking photo. Hopefully I will get some others in the next couple weeks. I plan to take some at home and at the Line Creek Nature Area in Peachtree City, and any place else I spy some decent colored leaves. One way to really make the sky brilliant blue with the leaf color is to use a circular polarizing filter. Not only does the filter enhance the sky color, it will help with any glare on the leaves. Cutting the glare on the leaves gives you a more vibrant photo. Another good filter for fall is a warming filter, this enhances the warm tones of the leaves, that filter makes the orange pop.

I am also seeing glimpses of bright yellow in the trees that are still green. This is a wild grape vine turning color. I have been told that the leaves of the wild muscadines do not turn yellow, so I am not sure what kind these are.

There are many state parks in Georgia to go see the colors of fall. The website for the park info is On the homepage at the top is "Leaf Watch 2007." Check out that link to see what is happening in the state parks as far as color. The state parks tab at the top of the page will take you to a listing of all in the state, info on each park along with a map and directions to them. The predictions for fall color have been dismal since we are in the grip of one of the worst droughts in years, decades. But I am hopeful, especially when I see those red sumac and golden grape leaves, there is something out there to see and photograph.

Side note: "Where did pink lemonade come from?" In my poking around for info for this blog, I found info on pink lemonade. One, or twelve, websites I visited about sumac likened the Native American drink to pink lemonade. Think about it --- are there any pink lemons? Wikipedia gives an interesting account to some 17 year old named Billie in the late 1800's. He was preparing a large batch of lemonade and a pair of red tights fell into the water by accident, giving the pinkish hue. The circus was opening, the crowd had already arrived, so no time left to make a fresh batch. I don't know about that story and who would want to drink lemonade that had tights soaking in it? I actually found a notice from the September 18, 1912 edition of the New York Times:


The death of Henry E. Allott will be mourned by the boys of the older generation. For he was the man whose red-coated cinnamon candies, dropped in a tub of lemonade, thereafter made the pink beverage popular wherever the traveling animals and chariots, the steam calliope, the band, the horseback ladies and funny clowns driving donkey wagons would draw up in front of the big tent after a parade. P. T. Barnum's show could not have evolved to the greatest show on earth without Henry E. Allott's pink lemonade."

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