Bubbles and ice

Another from a visit to a small vernal pond that had thawed and frozen in our warm January weather. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the large and small bubbles and the stick.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

Appreciate hearing how this image works for you as is.

Technical Details

Sony 6000, 1/250, f/11, 140mm, ISO1250 with conversation to B&W, adjustments to tonal curves, dehaze, cropping, and sharpening inn LR.


Bubbles have always felt exciting to me, John. They have energy. In this case they make me wonder what is below? Seems like there must be water flowing somewhere. Technically, the detail in the bubble is great and the composition works with the large and small bubble distributed throughout the scene. I am wondering why you chose to make it b/w? Was the water blue or blue/green? I just curious if there could have been a bit more contrast with some color? Nicely seen and a fun photo for sure.

@linda_mellor Thank you fellow lover of bubbles. This was photographed on a very shallow vernal pond—in January!—so there was not much of interest about the color (see below). The bubbles are no doubt methane bubbles from the decaying leaves in the pond. B&W seemed the best option.

1 Like

Totally agree, John. Thanks for posting the before photo.

John this is a fun shot. I like it a lot. In fact, I just wanted to play with it to see if I could add a little more color to the original. When I posted my first abstract not long ago, I was told I could go crazy on the colors in abstracts. I did go crazy and had a lot of fun experimenting. You can see that image here: @Frozen This is what I came up with very quickly on your original image. I added more saturation, clarity and I used an action on the TK8 panel called “Soft Pop”. You can also play with the Hue. You may not like this, but I just wanted to pass along some advice I received on abstracts.

@Donna_Callais thanks for trying! I remember your post @Frozen and it was much more successful in color, even crazy color! The brown in this one just did nothing for me . Onward.

I agree with John that the B and W version pops more. But it’s also cool to see how @Donna_Callais improved a lot on the original colour version. I would prefer to see that right-hand bubble whole, and indeed the chopped left-hand one too, though I doubt if you have a second shot to allow this! I love how the larger bubbles seem to almost be floating surreally over the surface.

1 Like


Love these bubbles - and of all sizes! I really think the b&w pops - the contrast and processing in general is excellent.

And the stick? I actually like the tension added as well as having another element of interest. I think it’s important too that the stick is long enough and present enough to be understook to be “included on purpose.” In other words, you chose to leave it, or include it because you felt it added.

An altenative, as is usually present with abstract images - would be a square crop, excluding the larger bubbles on the right. I think you liked having the various sizes, but at least from my viewpoint, it’s the contrast and fine details of the little ones - and the stick that I’m attracted to. But as presented, works well too!

Emotional? Not really a connection - just me, I wasn’t there so it’s difficult to impress emotion unless there’s a clear story to express for those who were present. For an abstract like this - not so important.

Great job with this.


John, I also think the monochrome edit works well with the subject. There is some good contrast in the tones which help define the shapes of the bubbles.

  • Aesthetic: love the organic shapes and variation in size of the bubbles. As mentioned, the black and white edit looks great. I’d like to suggest trying a square crop to focus attention to the bubble arrangement in the center. To my eye, the stick is a bit of a distraction in the scene but nature is not perfect so it’s ok if the stick is included.

Did you consider shifting the color towards the cooler spectrum from the original? That might look interesting.

  • Emotional: I didn’t have a wide array of emotions when viewing the image. The image is delightful and curiosity was my strongest feeling.

  • Technical: Everything looks well exposed and in focus. No technical issues.

John, my first reaction was ‘wow’ when I saw this. The sharpness and definition of the bubbles, and the monochrome aspect of it, are really strong. Yet as I looked at it more, I found that the stick and the circle in the upper left edge drew me away from the parts of the image I loved the most - that section with one large and many smaller bubbles, and the others on the right. It would not be possible here to change that, but in the field, a variation on this composition that might have eliminated the stick would have been a good option to try. Sometimes I am not sure, when making an image, and I try to make it both ways so I can choose later on. I agree that the stick is at least obviously ‘on purpose’ rather than an ‘oops I didn’t see it’ element, and it’s OK, yet when I block that upper area with my hand, I find the image is even stronger. Just my opinion, I think the overall impact is still quite strong!

1 Like

@brenda_tharp Thanks for your comments, especially about trying several images while in the field; it is something I often do but also too often I find I am just clicking and moving on. Anyway, here is a crop and adjust that gets rid of the stick and into the part of the image you say you like best!

John, thank you for taking the time to consider my suggestion. I DO like it this way a lot. Of course you are the final judge…

Brenda Tharp Photography
Capturing the World in Pictures

Nature, Travel & Fine Art Images