Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


I found this dead tree against a hazy sky near the top of Mesa Verde a few years ago. I liked this infrared filter effect, which tremendously increased the drama of the sky, as well as the feeling that the tree had challenged the elements - and lost.

Specific Feedback

I didn’t really like that I had to cut off the bottom of the tree, but it was rooted over the edge of the cliff. I have another angle of it that includes the base, and there’s a ton of stuff in the background, and I lost the cool sky. I’m also not sure about the limbs that are cut off on the right, especially that big one. Because of the shape of the crack next to and into the trunk, I considered removing that big limb and using the C-shaped crack as a guide. I’ve haven’t tried it yet because my Photoshop skills are still a little less than great.

Technical Details

ISO 100, F 8, 1/320, 25 mm; converted to black and white, and an infrared filter applied.

1 Like

Love the dramatic gesture! I agree about the lower right hand side–that thick limb is distracting, but I totally get that you could not get into an ideal position! I wonder if it might work to crop about 1/3 of the way from the bottom edge. This might help to focus the eye more on that moody sky and those smaller, intricate branches. Anyway, worth a try. Nice image!!!

I really like the composition in Black and White. The leading lines of the tree to the sky draws the eye upwards. There is very nice light and shadows around the tree. It may be worth adding in a little more of the base of the tree and possibly centering the image to incorporate a little more of the large branch. The right side feels “cut off”. Just a thought.

I guess I should have thought of taking a vertical panorama and stitched the images together. That big limb on the right extended out some distance and almost as high as the the top of the main trunk. But even from this angle, I would have run into background clutter on the right side. The tree used to be over the edge of the slope near the trail to the Knife Edge high on Mesa Verde (I didn’t see it when we were there this past May). Oh well. It was worth a shot; I may have to put this one into the ‘great idea, but not quite there’ group.

There is no shortage of dead trees in the west, a combination of a lack of rain fall and wild fires. Your composition focuses attention well on your subject and as mentioned B&W is the only way to go. Thanks for the insight on the challenges of the composition. My only suggestion would be to decrease the highlights and perhaps increase the contrast a tad to the sky.

Denise, this is a very striking look at this dead tree where the sky adds well to the feeling of isolation and the sense of starkness. BTW, I’ve tried multishot vertical panos and found it very challenging to deal with the perspective change and maintaining the verticle using a ball head.