Desert Dawning

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

I love the dramatic light in this image, the reflection, the awesome sky. Would love feedback on the color balance of the sky, the brightly lit mountain (White Pocket), and the rest of the landscape, rocks in particular that were in the shade.

Creative direction

First, my apologies for not responding to those of you that kindly took the time to comment on my last post. It has been a crazy week, and I will make time tomorrow to answer.
As for this image, I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions. I have taken this image in many different processing directions, and even though I like the results somewhat, I feel I have not reached the image’s potential. So please, do not hold back. :slight_smile:

Specific Feedback

Any and all feedback welcomed!

Technical Details

1/125sec, f/9, 16mm, ISO 400


The morning I took this image, there was a heavy cloud cover that just cleared enough in the east to let through this magical light, turning the actual White Pocket into the color of blazing flames, the glorious moment reflecting in the pond, left behind by the passing storm. To those not familiar with White Pocket, it is an area akin to something from another planet. Most of the time, the whole area is dry, but after a good rain, many ponds grace the area for as long as the desert heat will permit.

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A lovely shot! You had some spectacular light to work with.

Hi Fritz :slight_smile:

I really like the amazing light and the amazing clouds in this image and, the landscape is awesome! I can easily see why you took the time to capture this.

I can also see why you are trying different processing directions, the scene is well worth the effort in my view.
What came to mind for me is that the FG seems a touch too bright and maybe a touch too bland.
To me, the brighter FG almost holds my attention there instead of being pulled to the White Pocket. I hope that makes sense.
I hope you don’t mind that I had a go at darkening the FG, then adding a touch of red to the FG rocks, then darkening the water and adding a touch of blue there.
Then I used a soft brush to brush in some burning in the cracks between the rocks to add some definition.
BTW, I used a Selective Color adjustment layer in Ps for the color enhancements.

And of course, maybe somewhere in between the original and what I did would also work but that’s all up to you. :slight_smile:

Anyway, you asked for us to not hold back so here’s my take on it, Fritz :slight_smile:

Merv’s rework made me realize that my first comment didn’t do you any good. I think it’s a lovely shot but I’d consider a few tweaks if it were mine. You asked for such suggestions and I didn’t offer any. I’ll rectify that.


The highlights in the sunlit rock and its reflection seemed a little too bright to me. I reduced the brightness a bit and slightly reduced the saturation of the reds and yellows. I probably overdid it.

I darkened the water some. It should be darker than what it’s reflecting because water is never 100% reflective. If a reflection is just as bright as what it’s reflecting, we don’t believe the photo even if we’re not sure why.

Although I couldn’t do it here, I’d ease off on the sharpening of the sunlit area, particularly its reflection in the water. Reflections don’t have hard edges.

All that said, I think it’s a fine shot as is, and its your taste buds that matter, not mine.

Don Peters, Mervin Rosenquist Thank you both for you input! Yes, the foreground in this version is a bit bland. One of the many, many versions :slight_smile: I had done previously, has a higher contrast and is a bit darker all over, but the sky started looking a bit fake. I like the suggestion of just darkening the foreground, the water in particular.

Also like the suggestion to add a touch of red to the rocks, and a touch of blue to the water.

As for the brightness of White Pocket, it really was incredibly bright in person, as the clouds parted just enough to spot-light it. I will try lowering the brightness a tad, but just a little.

Thank you both again. I can’t tell you how helpful and appreciated your input is.

Have a great week!

Fritz, I like the brightness of the White Pocket. When we are faced with a sunset like this it can be challenging to convince others that it was really that bright. I like the vegitation in the immediate foreground. The problem I see is the large surface of rock on the right that occupies about a fourth of the frame. It dosn’t add much interest. Adding color to it only emphasizes it. I simply croped most of it and kept the nice line it has. I burned the rocks just a bit more to the one on the right. I also burned the vegitation in the immediate foreground just a bit because it seemed to be too bright. Thanks for challenging us with a very interesting picture.

Greetings, Barbara. I just realized I had not answered your comment. Thank you so much for taking the time. Very much appreciate the feedback. I really like your crop, one I had not tried out yet. For my liking, I think I would like just a bit more breathing room on the right, and just a tad more sky, but I like the idea of minimizing the amount of rock on the right. This is what I love about this platform: different ideas, that lead to yet another possibility. Thank you!

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