Autumn High Water

Abraham Lake is a beautiful turquoise color which contrasts nicely with the warm tones of autumn aspen leaves.

Specific Feedback Requested

Is the composition okay with the three tree trunks in the middle, and is it too busy?

Technical Details

3 images stack with a slight crop off the left side. Nikon D7100, ISO 200, f11, 1/30 sec

This is a difficult scene to capture. On one hand you want enough depth of field to get the aspen and all of the leaves and branches in focus. On the other hand, this image would benefit from a more shallow depth of field to throw the background out of focus in order to create separation with the trees. I do find that the background competes for my attention quite a bit. Nevertheless this is still a beautiful image.

What a beautiful image of fall color, from somewhere I’d really love to visit one day. I really like the color mix. I’m also intrigued by the rippled reflections, which are a favorite subject of mine.

To address your feedback request: With the current crop, there is a relative emptiness on the right side of the composition, where the reflections fall off. Since this is also a bright area, I’m a bit drawn away from the lovely elements in the left part of the image. Also, on the very right, the yellow aspen leaves tend to blend in with the background, whereas through the rest they contrast nicely with the conifers and water.

For those reasons, I’d consider cropping off the right part of the image, around where the reflections drop out. This could be roughly a 4x5 crop. It may also have the added benefit of moving the trio off center a bit.

Interested to hear what others think. Wonderfully evocative of autumn, Mary.


Welcome to NPN! I like the three aspens as the main subject with the colorful foliage providing a nice framing and contrast. I agree with the suggestion to try a tighter crop, which should help put more focus on the aspens. It looks like the aspens are backlit with fairly soft light, but some dodging perhaps on the edges might help draw more attention as well.

Thanks Brian. I will check on the three images I took for the stack and see if the third is an out of focus background which could be eliminated. I will try it and see how it works.

Good suggestions, Dean. Thank you. I am not sure what happens next. Do I apply the suggestions for different editing and repost or wait–?

I appreciate your observations and suggestions Jack. I tend to get so drawn into the color and beauty I forget about watching edges etc. There is more of the branch on the left I could include and I’ll try a crop off the right. Abraham Lake is even more beautiful in the winter with slabs of blue ice, but of course no yellow aspen leaves.

Hi Mary Lane,

Gorgeous image! Love the vibrance. Maybe it’s just how this is coming across on the web and monitor… but this looks like I could just drag this from my screen and hang onthe wall as either an acrylic or aluminum print - this would be stunning in print!

I hadn’t considered the right, but afte reading Jack’s comments and suggestion, I do think there might be a slight improvement by cropping slightly. I don’t think you’re removing any pertinent info and so I think safe to crop and retain the impact and beauty you’ve captured. Love this autumn image - oh, and you’ve got the unique added feature of the apens a little out of their normal place - in the water! Very cool, great find.

Good question. Most folks who want to engage and who are willing to consider suggestions and work with them, will often re-work and then re-post. It’s a best practice to EDIT your original post, rather than replying i the thread further down. When doing so, edit your original post, rename the title to reflect a repost, such as “Autumn Highwater +RP” or “Autumn Highwater + rework” or similar - that draws attention to members who have either already commented, or not commented yet. Then, while still editing, click on “add image” and simply add your rework to your original post. In your Case, the original image is the first thing a view sees, so you can either post the new version first, OR insert after your original. Either way, be sure and indicate with text to say something like: “Edited version below:” - something to indicate which is the original and which is the reworked version.

Timing wise, it’s up to you. If you think the rework is a big change and you want more feedback on that, then the sooner the better. On the other hand, often times you might want to wait a little bit and let your original get some views and feedback. But no set rules, whatever and whenever you think best. And just to be transparent - there is NOTHING that says you have to rework your image. A simple thank you to those making the suggestions that you appreciate the ideas, etc. etc. We’re not obligated to make changes suggested by anyone! Of course, of course most of the time, the changes are valid and end up improving our images - which is the whole point! :slight_smile:

Here’s a great example post from Bonnie: Fallen at the Edge of a Lake #4 + Rework - Image Critiques / Landscape Critiques - Nature Photographers Network

Hope this helps!

Hi Mary, my initial reaction was that this was a beautiful image, very pleasing. But I agree with your idea that it might be too busy - as others have alluded to, the somewhat busy background being in focus, the rather contrasty and busy reflections, the empty-yet-bright lower-right and the visually dense lower-left, the kind of left-heavy balance overall… these get in the way of appreciating the scene’s beauty.

So I would agree with Jack’s suggestion of cropping off some of the right side, but I think a 5:4 loses too much over there for the overall balance - then it feels too “divided” to me, between trunks on the right side and the orange foliage on the left. I think a 7:5 crop, losing some of the right and a hair off the bottom, works pretty well. That way the trees feel less centered, the right side feels less empty, and it also doesn’t feel split 50/50 between trunks and orange foliage like it does with a tighter crop.

Then, to address the busyness, there are a number of things I tried. I brightened the dark reflections and darkened the bright ripples/areas on the water. I also shifted the cyan in the water a bit more blue, just to simplify the number of colors we’re taking in.

In the background, I darkened the bright sky and lightened the dark green shoreline of trees, again to simplify/flatten the contrast back there. Then I brightened the orange and yellow foliage to have it stand out better against the backdrop and avoid making the whole image appear flat.

Lastly, there was still the issue of a bright lower-right-corner, and a dark spot in the lower-left. So I used the healing brush in content-aware mode (I did it rather crudely, but I think it could be done if you were careful) to bring the LL and LR areas more in line with the bulk of the reflections in the center. (Of course, this kind of change totally depends on your photo “ethics”. Personally I don’t think it alters the integrity of the main subject, it just removes distractions, but everyone draws the line somewhere different.)

One more question, Lon, if you can stand it. Should I reply to each critique? I don’t know what is expected or appropriate. What about a thank you to the guest “judge” as Alex is this week? Thanks. mla

Thanks Alex. Very detailed processing suggestions which I appreciate very much. Editing the raw is a challenge for me. I need to pay more attention to tone balance. ml

1 Like

Of course Mary Lane, no problem. And appreciate the question!

Yes, for sure Alex or any “guest judge” it would be appropriate to thank in your thread. Not sure if you caught this feature yet, but you can “tag” someone by simply using the “@” in front of their name and the system will let you select their name. This way the person get’s a notification you’ve mentioned them. For example if I use your name, @Mary_Lane_Anderson the system will find your name.

So, with that said, you can thank a number of people in one response - which keeps things a little more tidy. But again, no rules… if you want to reply directly to someone because they provide great feedback or comment, by all means reply to them directly.

Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it real quick. Much of it is common sense too. for example, if you get just 2 or 3 replies, you can opt to just thank everyone, or individually. YOu decide. On the other hand, if it turns out there’s like 20 comments (and we’re seeing more activity each day it seems…) there’s no obligation to thank everyone who stops by and comments. Some folks are brief and to the point. Then there are those like me who like to leave word salads for responses… ha ha. Again, however it works for you.

Hopefully this helps!