Afternoon Glow

A few months after the Southern California wildfires and I’ve been wanting to somehow capture the charred landscape. Here, a burnt tree stands out against bright green new growth. This was taken in the afternoon under some dark skies, after an overnight downpour. The green grass really seems bright and glowing and I’m wondering why? Maybe there is some sunlight coming through, or maybe there is some wet in the grass that is magnifying the little light that is there, or maybe it is the gray background. Anyway, I like the subtle luminence in this scene!

Specific Feedback Requested

How do you all like this composition, and is there too much other clutter? It is hard to find a lone tree without anything else in the scene…this was the best I could find without trespassing on private property.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No

Handheld, 1/1000 second, 200mm, f/11, ISO 500. Some sharpening and vignette in LR, and a slight Orton Effect in Photoshop.



Darn private property signage! But I respect you respecting it.

There is a lot going on here, but there are some good lines and the tree anchors the scene well. If you feel like giving it a go, maybe clone out the yellow/orange foliage peeking over the horizon to the left of the tree in back. Ditto for the green foliage stick up on the right. It would simplify things in terms of colors & shapes. The break in the clouds disrupts the image, too, so maybe clone the other clouds into that space. Perhaps that’s too much manipulation for an image that represents renewal and the persistence of life. The glowing green grass represents this very well. I like it very much.

Why did I think this would be Scotland or Ireland? I guess it’s the sky. I think the light makes this image. Any time you have good light and a cloudy sky like this it always works out well. The tree has a wonderful shape, a shape that begs to be photographed. The grass seems just a bit too yellow but not much. A cyan grass would kill this image.

Great tree and wonderful light. I might crop a sliver off the left to put the tree more on the third.

Very nicely done Mark, and I think all of the factors you mentioned explain the luminous quality of the landscape. The light here is simply gorgeous, both on the landscape and in the sky. And the starkness of the burnt tree creates an interesting juxtaposition against the lush greens in the field.

I like the off-center placement of the tree, and the diagonal lines at the horizon and in the landscape. I also like how the little bit of the far hill comes in on the left, and that it’s diagonal is going in a different direction than the other diagonals. The only place there may be too much clutter is the extreme LLC, and the darkness of that lower left corner draws attention. I tried dodging that area, but it didn’t look right. So I went for a bottom crop instead.

Really like the composition. Agree with @Ed_McGuirk that the diagonals are important element and lead me to the tree effectively. Very interesting tree as well. Nice image!

PS. Not over-processed and I like that also.

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts. I’ve posted a revision.
@Kris_Smith, I removed the bush to the left of the tree, but gave up trying to remove that greenery to the right! Nothing but smudges! My PS cloning/healing skills need improvement. I also darkened the bright clouds just above the tree…the healing brush took away some of the contours that I liked, so I just darkened the brights a bit there.
@Igor_Doncov , Scotland is on my bucket list! One day! Thanks for spotting the yellow tint of the grass. I removed a little bit, probably not even that noticeable in this re-post, but noticeable on my screen.
@Ed_McGuirk - Thanks for pointing out the diagonals…I hadn’t thought about that but agree totally that they help. I think the darkness in LLC might have been exacerbated by a -20 vignette I had. I removed the vignette entirely and it brightens up the corner a bit. I left the crop unchanged however.
@Ronald_Murphy and @Mario_Cornacchione , thanks for taking a look and adding your thoughts.

I like the look of the rework with removal of the strong vignette, and retaining the original crop. It was the darkness that bothered me more than the composition anyways.

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This looks really good, and I am liking the repost. I think you did a fine job accomplishing your goal to capture the charred landscape.

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Really great capture Mark. I really love the slightly curving lines in this image. It’s the first thing I really noticed. The second image is certainly better without the vignette and I agree that you should not have cropped it. It would remove part of the lines that I really like about this image. I prefer the sky in the first image. With the burnt tree it looks like a lightening strike to me and just fits the scene. You really captured some incredible glowing light and it’s really offset nicely by the cloudy, overcast skies. The greens look pretty good to me as is. Great story to this. Looks like rejuvenation to me. What a great find!

@Harley_Goldman and @David_Haynes - thanks a lot for your feedback. Glad to share this scene that I had been hoping for!