Blue Flax (+ Rework)

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


I took this image of blue flax a couple weeks ago in one of my favorite hiking spots. There are large patches of it growing along the side of the trail, and this year it seemed to be especially prolific, perhaps because we’ve had a lot of rain lately. The conditions were breezy, so I spent quite a while waiting for still moments to try to capture the main flower when it wasn’t moving. I think flax is beautiful when it flowers, but I actually really like it in the winter when the plants dry out, turn golden brown, and are covered in little round seed pods.

Specific Feedback

I wonder if there is too much separation between the main subject and the background. I think I achieved what I was going for–isolated subject against a blurred background–but sometimes when I look at this image the subject seems a little too detached from its surroundings. Any critique or feedback on that aspect or anything else in the image would be appreciated.

Technical Details

f/6.3, 1/320 sec., ISO 100, shot at 68 mm. I cropped a little bit off the edges, made some light adjustments to brighten the image, and made a few color adjustments to try to remove some of the yellow color from the background and enhance the green. I also used the healing tool on some of the prominent blades of grass in the background, not to remove them entirely but just to make them less distracting.

Here is a re-edited version based on the feedback I received:


Hi, John. This is such a delicate image. I like how you captured that single blue flax with a blurred background. It gives me a sense of an impressionistic painting.

The subject does appear detached and is a bit too small in the present crop. Of course, it is all a matter of personal choice. I think that cropping a quarter from the top and left edge would make the subject more prominent and not give the idea of it being detached from its surroundings, as you said. I would also suggest reducing the highlights in the background and leaving the spotlight on the solo blue flax. If you apply a radial filter or use LR to select the BG, you can darken it a bit more. That will bring in some more contrast while at the same time increasing the subject’s presence in the overall image. I am also somewhat distracted by the blue flax appearing between the two buds.

I hope you don’t mind my having downloaded your image for illustration purposes. This edit is what I was trying to describe as a suggestion. I did not do a good job eliminating the blue flax between the buds, but even that might work as less distracting. I have deleted the image from my drive.

I really like the placement of the blue flax in the LRC. It’s such a naturally flowing composition. This image really fits this week’s theme.

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Thank you, @Egidio, for your suggestions. I like the changes you’ve made, especially the crop. I liked the background so much that I was reluctant to crop much of it out, but I agree that the tighter crop works much better. I also agree that the flower between the lower stems is a bit distracting. I’ll put some more work into this image and see what I can do. Thank you again for the feedback!

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You have a lovely capture of a lovely flower. I agree with @Egidio about the crop – enough of the BG buds remain to give the impression you wanted, which is a very nice idea, and it makes the main flower more prominent and balanced. The BG flower behind the bud doesn’t bother me because the other ones, especially with the help of its nearby companion, explain what it is. I would consider removing or softening the OOF blade of grass going down from the lowest bud – it pulls the eye out of the frame. The others in the BG are not distracting to me, maybe because they don’t “attach” to anything.

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I think this is a lovely image, and it feels like the blue flower is trying to stand out and rise above the other flowers . I do like the crop and slight edit that Egidio suggested. Looking at the original, I feel like the flower is trying to embrace the other flower, but taking it out is also nice.

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@Egidio, @Diane_Miller, @robertakayne - Thank you all for your feedback. I posted a re-edited version above. I went with a tighter crop and decreased the highlights in the background as suggested by Egidio. Rather than remove the flower between the lower stems, I decided just to soften it a bit. I think that helps make it recede into the background more and makes it less distracting without removing it entirely. I also tried to soften the lower blade of grass as suggested by Diane. I think these changes definitely improve the image. Thank you again for taking the time to comment and offer your suggestions!

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John, the rework really made your image composition stronger. You’ve done a great job on the edits.

John, the rework is loovely and still keeps the important part of the background without taking away from the main subject…

I like your edits! A lovely image!