Clouds Descending on Green River Overlook

Green River Overlook in Canyonlands NP - Island in the Sky District has long been one of my favorite locations around Moab. I’ve got at least a dozen images from here that I’m fond of, with one in particular that outsold nearly everything else when I had my gallery. This isn’t it, but I recently rescued this one from my hard drive.

I’d obviously tried - and failed - to process it when the image was fresh (over 15 years ago). New techniques, new tools and new visions (plus whiskey) led me to give it another go. This is the result. No dramatic light or unicorns, but I actually enjoy the soft light, muted color palette and the mystery of wondering what’s beyond the clouds.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • 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

What say y’all? Any and all feedback appreciated.

Technical Details

Canon something or other, probably 5D MKII
Canon 24-105mm lens @ 88mm
ISO 160
Processed in Lightroom


This is a wonderful image, Bret. I love the colour palette and the leading lines are exquisite with the brightest tawny brown leading into the winding river. Very compelling and beautifully capturing the expanse of this extraordinary environment. What I would do, however, is crop from the top. It feels to me that there is too much of the bright mist which draws my eye up and out of the frame. I would be tempted to crop down to the top of the brightest bit of mist on far right edge of the frame, and then bring down the brightness of the mist in the upper right corner. I did a free hand crop to see where I’d take it and it turned out to be exactly 16:9, which gives it a pano feel that seems appropriate for this image. Take a look below and see what you think.

I like @Kerry_Gordon’s crop and color modification. This is a place I tried to find and was unsuccessful. The only thing to wish for would be that the entire rim of the canyon would have been included in the bottom left.


I really like how the grand landscape is combined with an atmospheric event in a single, cohesive landscape. In fact I think Kerry’s crop surprisingly even enhances that. ie. less atmosphere up to actually makes the clouds more like a squal dumping rain. The canyon view is of course spectacular.

I’m almost wondering what this might look like in b&w, but to be sure, the color presentation is beautiful. And there’s a great nature story here.


Been there and have an image that’s darn near identical compositionally. But I didn’t have the good fortune to have any fog make a cameo appearance. What a terrific addition that makes.

Before I would consider cropping this, I would try fooling around with (probably) a Radial Gradient with some Dehaze applied. That might allow just enough detail in some of the more densely foggy areas to peek through and avoid the need to crop.

For me, the fog is the chorus (i.e., the ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’) of the image and I would do anything I could to avoid cropping out such an important element. In the end, it may be necessary to crop if you can’t wring out a little more detail in the denser areas, but I would find it disappointing if so.

Thank you for the comments, everyone.

@Kerry_Gordon I do like the idea of the crop you suggested. I’ll play around with that!

@Lon_Overacker I’m actually surprised it hadn’t occurred to me to try this in b&w. I think maybe processing the landscape in high contrast, so the lighter tones really pop, might be really cool.

@Igor_Doncov It’s been a long time since I shot this but I’m pretty sure I had a reason not to include the entire canyon. Maybe not, though.

@rjWilner I did use a linear gradient on the ,clouds but maybe I didn’t take it far enough. I do like the idea of adding some dehaze. I’ll give it a shot!