Blackwater Falls Closeup

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


When Ed and I were shooting Blackwater Falls, we thought we saw a face in this closeup. Do you see anything? Which crop do you prefer or if you don’t like any, that’s fine also.

Specific Feedback

Any and all critiques, suugestions and comments welcome.

Technical Details

Nikon Z7, 1/4 sec @ f/11, ISO 100, Z24-200 @ 200mm

Critique Template

Use of the template is optional, but it can help spark ideas.

  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
  • Emotional Impact and Mood:
  • Composition:
  • Balance and Visual Weight:
  • Depth and Dimension:
  • Color:
  • Lighting:
  • Processing:
  • Technical:
1 Like

This is a great waterfall and structure. Really caught my eye because of the face. To me, the face feels most apparent in the first and third crops. I think this is because those crops have a “neck and shoulders” to complete the way our eyes process the human form.

I like the second crop a lot too. For me, I find a face-like impression (or anything in an image that looks like something else) distracting unless that is the purpose of the picture. In this case, it can tell a story of endurance, adversity. The face is a little skull-like, so I get a grim feeling. That could be changed with a warmer palette maybe.

So you have a couple of good options here. I’m curious about others’ impressions.


In the first shot, I see an Alien skull on a rock ledge. He is facing me His right eye is closed and covered by the waterfall. It shows a real high eyebrow above the left eye, which is closed, a small nose with a real sharp cheek bone. His mouth is closed as well. In the second shot I see the right side of a face, just the eye and sorta a nose looking down. Wearing a hat maybe. In the third shot, I see a better view of the 1st shot.
Like clouds, if you look long enough, you can see more or less what you want. I like all 3 shots
However, in all 3 shots My eye catches the yellow light on the upper right side, can that be changed to look like the water on the left side?
I still enjoy looking at thhe rock formations.

Thanks @SkipsPics and @Marylynne_Diggs for the looking and commenting.
John I shoulda fixed the water’s colors but I just missed it somehow.
I will reveal what I see when this thread has petered out.

This is fantastic! And yes, I kind of see a face too. All three of these images are stunning and are all equally strong so it’s impossible for me to choose a favourite.

All three images work really well, with the first being my favorite. I like the SS choice as it has created some lovely textures and details in the cascading water. I also like the tension created with the water basically a straight plunge on the left side while the right is a series of cascades.

You already know what face I see in the rock outcropping so I see what others think as well.

I like all three, but probably the first and second more than the third. The first shot, being a vertical, emphasizes the waterfall. I think the second shot does the best job with the “face”. The set as a whole is a nice example of really working the scene.

Michael, Your image proves that there is more between heaven and earth . You must have an eye for it. I like the first one most .

I love the perspective on this the monochrome profile and the abstract face the 1st crop works best to my taste and the white boarder really frames it well

Mike, I clearly see the face of a statue, with #1 being my favorite crop. If you have the space, have you tried a slight shift of the frame to the right (minimizing or removing) the dark bit along the left side). Nicely seen.

Batman enjoying a shower…

I like the first image best; it should sing with the water color fiddled with.

1 Like

A very “grabbing” image. Michael. That is, it grabs my attention immediately and holds my attention long enough to allow me to search through it fully. Many images will grab you but only hold you for an instant before you move on. Any image that holds you is a good one!

I’m not so sure about seeing the face. I see something there, but not a face. Perhaps it’s just the interesting geologic features but it does lend a unique “look” to the image. I think the small 45 degree diagonal in the center definitely helps with the 'grab". That’s not something you see everyday in the middle of an otherwise flat surface wall. I particularly like the juxtaposition of the finely featured wall against the blur of the rushing water, along with the tonal juxtaposition with the darker gray vs the brighter water. As for which composition, I definitely prefer the middle comp, with the more square comp being second. Percentage wise for favorability, I would say 70% middle comp, 20% Square, and 5% vertical. The middle comp allows the image to breath, to have a life of its own without crowding the rockface. I also find the middle comp to be more balanced.

As for nits, the only thing that stands out is the small overly bright spot in the water above the rock and diagonal slant. I pulled it up in PS and it appears to be blown out in all three channels. Perhaps that may be a spot to experiment with Generative Fill or something to correct that. I played with that and it can be viewed below.

Again, a beautiful image well seen and well captured!

Thanks @WillR , @Mark_Seaver , @Marylynne_Diggs , @John_Williams , @Bill_Chambers , @Tom_Nevesely , @SkipsPics , @Ed_Lowe , @Ben_van_der_Sande , @freddie for the comments and suggestions.
Just wanna let you know what I saw. Red line, profile,possibly bear, blue line, maybe big cat, lion.


Oh man, was I off? I saw a terminator type figure facing the viewer: head, eyes blue, mouth red, neck and shoulders.

I like your version better!:sweat_smile:

First crop for me. Definitely emphasizes the falling water more. I also really like the added context of the stone toward the bottom which gives more of a solid foundation (literally) for that beautiful “face” to perch upon. As to being a face, I don’t necessarily see it as an anthropomorphic feature… just a beautifully sculpted feature of erosion.

I agree with another comment that the yellow tint to the water on the right is a bit distracting. Could either use a bit of targeted lightening/tone shift or perhaps convert this to B&W since it’s nearly that way already.

Final thought is that the exposure time has the ribbons of water captured perfectly. Not too fast, not too slow… just right. Congrats on a beautiful image!

Hi Michael,

A little late, but wanted to comment.

I definitely reacted by seeing a face, creature or something… in fact, my first impression was Michael Keaton’s “Batman”… but upon longer study… I lose that impression. Which is perfectly fine since the image stands alone without any interpretation.

Love the first and vertical composition. Not only did the face/mask pop out, the flow of the water is naturally depicted with the vertical flow.

I would also comment on the yellow tinted water on the right. Not an image killer, but I think selectively desaturating that would remove the tendancy for the eye to go there. But I also think remaining a color image works best as I think the browns in the rock itself help define that feature.

Wonderful image !