Branching Out


An aerial view of the coast of Alaska. Taken from a low flying small plane on a flight from Anchorage to Lake Clark National Park. I was lucky enough to snag the seat next to the pilot, and he even let me open the window. The colors in this section of the coast were just amazing.

I am a big fan of fractals in nature, and the channels here did not disappoint.

I do not have an interest in drone photography, but this sure was fun to try.

I went to Lake Clark to photograph coastal brown bears. But it rained sideways for 6 days and we only saw a handful of bears. This image ended up being one of my favorite shots from the trip :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :cry:

Specific Feedback Requested:

Any citique or comments are welcome

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Is this a composite? (focus stacks or exposure blends are not considered composites)

100mm, 1/2000 sec at f5.6, ISO 1000

Rework with blue saturation dialed back


Beautiful abstract. Without the description, it would be hard to get a sense of scale. Love the lines, colors and patterns. I am with you on drones. I find it difficult to embrace drone images (maybe because they are so annoying and intrusive when flying nearby), but for some reason, airplane images are just fine by me.

This must have been shot very close to the coast because the channels seem to have little water due to low tide. Is that correct? I’m just curious why they’re blue given that we’re looking at exposed grey mud. I suspect that was done in processing.

I’ve always wanted to go to Lake Clark. There are lots of bears to photograph in the Katmai Park not too far from where you went. The trick is to know when the salmon runs takes place. The sockeye run is the one I would target. July.

PS. I really dislike drones but have you seen Adam Gibbs’ drone videos? They’re amazing. His videos are shot moving away from the subjects.

Who knew you were shooting abstract landscapes while on a wildlife trip. I like the colors and patterns, but am also wondering what creates the unique blue in the river bed?

I agree with the others and don’t appreciate the noisy drones, but I do enjoy some of the interesting images they make possible.

Wonderful abstract Ed. I love these type images. I initially thought it was a drone shot until reading your description. I have nothing against drones as the images yo can get are amazing and quite unique. Curious as to the altitude it was taken at.

Beautiful colors and textures! It looks like a topo map for hiking except in bright colors!

@Harley_Goldman @Igor_Doncov @Alan_Kreyger @Mario_Cornacchione @Vanessa_Hill

thank you all for your comments, I appreciate your input.

I agree that the blue saturation got out of hand here. The original raw file is very flat looking, but there is some blue in the river channel (I think it may be from glacial silt, because big mountains came up close to the ocean here). It was not grey in the raw file. But when I added LR Vibrance to boost the colors of the vegetation, it really overdid the blue. So I have attached a rework back up top with less blue saturation.

Harley, I feel exactly the same as you, I hate drones buzzing over me and disturbing the nature experience, and as such would never use them. But when in a small plane why not…

I’ve been to Lake Clark twice. The first time in late June we had sunny days the entire week, and saw 10 to 15 bears each day, often with cubs. Watching them dig for clams on the mud flats at low tide was amazing. In June the mom and cubs were very active in the meadows grazing on grass. My second trip in late July was timed for the salmon run. But a typhoon came over from the Sea of Japan, and we had high wind and heavy rain for 6 straight days. Even the bears did not want to go out in this weather. And to boot the guide said the salmon run was late. We literally saw like 5 bears the entire week.

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I personally didn’t mind the blue and didn’t think it was impossible for water to be that blue as I’ve seen all shades of blues to greens. The rework looks good too.

Sometimes when the mud is wet at certain angles the sky will reflect off it and the mud will appear slightly blue. I think I remember seeing it that way…

The original looked fine to me, as does the rework. Both work for me.

Thanks for posting the rework. I prefer it to the original.

Ed, I really like the abstract feel of this. The blue dialed back looks fine.

I have a book, Rivers of Life. Photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum took aerial shots of the rivers of Southwest Alaska…this reminded me of that.


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This is outstanding, Ed! I can see why this would be one of your favorites from the trip. Even though you missed out on the bears this image had to soothe the disappointment a bit. The lines and colors are simply gorgeous as they fan out over the scene.

I too am not a fan of drones; in fact they drive me up a wall as I find them annoying and the sound reminds me of mosquitoes on steroids. :angry:

Put me down for the repost as the blues look a little more natural IMO. You certainly had the best seat in the house.

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It’s interesting, but the un-colorful in the bottom of the frame make if feel a bit unbalanced color-wise, maybe. Played around with an alternate comp that eliminated it just to see if it worked better. Not really really sure. Maybe just something to think about if you’re looking for ideas.