Devil's Brook exposure

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?


You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Gaurav, first of all, welcome to NPN! I hope you like what you have seen here so far.

As for the image, I am surprised by how much I like this image. There is so much to like about it: it’s dynamic, it’s surreal, it’s slightly abstract. I really like the foamy part of the image and I am surprised how I like the darker triangle on the LL corner. I would suggest lifting the brightness in that area just slightly. I think as presented that triangle is rather dominant and takes away from all the beauty happening above it. I think you can achieve greater balance by lifting up the shadow there a bit.

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Thank you! That’s a very interesting suggestion, one that I had not thought of. I’m going to definitely try lifting those shadows and taking another look at it. I very much appreciate your suggestion.

Hi Gaurav -

Welcome to NPN! I hope you find this community to be helpful in your photography journey.

This is a lovely small scene and gives the feeling of a nice break at a stream crossing during a hike. I think you did a nice job with the shutter speed - I like the softer details in the water and the flow through the frame adds structure to the composition. I also like the oranges in the rocks as it adds some visual interest to the scene.


I took the photo into Photoshop to make a few adjustments that I might consider if this were my photo. If you look at the histogram, the file looks pretty underexposed (all the tones are concentrated on the left). I added a levels adjustment to brighten the photo overall by moving the white point to the left (masking out a bit of the brightest water to keep those tones from becoming over-exposed and to keep the upper left darker, since brightening that area brings out water splashes that pull my eye away from the main cascade). Since the bottom part of the frame doesn’t seem to have much detail, you could consider cropping it out (or in the future, zooming in a bit more to eliminate that dark spot or exposing the RAW file more brightly in the field). Also, I added a clean-up layer to clone out some of the inconsistencies in the upper left corner (water splashes - brighter things on the edge of the frame draw my attention away from the main cascade).


Gaurav, welcome to NPN. This is an intriguing view that is quite moody and highly abstract as presented. There’s a lot to see and enjoy with the rising flow of white water and it’s little swirls, the touch of light on the rocks with the small bright area at the end and the big X of flying water on the right.

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Welcome to NPN, Gaurav! I think Sarah’s suggestions and tweak work well. I am curious, though, as to what caused that deep black spot just above bottom-center?

The image is quite abstract, and flow is interesting.

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Thank you for your comments, and for taking the time to make adjustments yourself. I especially like the added detail from enhancing the contrast in the lower right, which makes the photo much richer.

I do feel that a trim from below works better than putting the log right on the bottom of the photo, but that’s a personal preference, of course. I use GIMP and will be trying to mimic the changes you made.

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Thank you for your comments! Appreciate it. To be honest, I think the X on the right wasn’t flying water, but rather rain or snow – I’d have to look back at when I took it.

Also, I’m not sure which deep black spot Preston is referring to. Is the the dark triangle in the lower left, below the log? I don’t know exactly what caused that, other than a persistent flow pattern in the stream. If I’m not looking at the right spot, please let me know which one.

Oooh… This sings with Sarah’s tweaks! Nice image Gaurav.

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Welcome to NPN Gaurav, and thanks for sharing your image with us. I think your shutter speed was very effective at capturing some interesting texture and flow in the water. I think the exposure tweaks by @Sarah_Marino improves the luminosity of the image significantly and gives it a lot more impact.

When processing our images it sometimes is easy to lose a sense of perspective the longer we work on them. Our eyes grow accustomed to seeing it, and we may not realize it is too dark (in this case). One tip that I’ve found helpful is that upon “completion” of your processing, just throw a levels adjustment layer on your “finished” image. And just as Sarah did, make sure there is not a lot of empty space on either side of the histogram. Otherwise you are not using the full tonal range of the image, which is usually preferable (unless it’s like a foggy scene). I do this on all the images I process, and it is a good quality control step to do at the end of the process.


I like your point regarding how we often lose the ability to see our own images, and I do find that happen with me often. Sarah’s adjustments were very helpful for that!

Regarding the shutter speed: I spend a lot of time thinking about this, so this is a topic close to my heart! Too fast a shutter speed freezes the action, making the photo look static. A slow shutter speed smooths everything out. This can look beautiful, but I find it doesn’t capture the playful nature that streams and waterfalls can have (of course, you can consciously try to capture the serene aspect of them in which case longer exposure works great). I try to look for a shutter speed that is fast enough that we can still see the smaller aspects of the stream, such as little waves or drops, but slow enough that the movement is clear.


Welcome to NPN! You’ve created a bit of mystery and abstractness with this intimate view of the stream. I’m a bit unsure of what is the dark shape at the bottom, but I guess that is one of the things adding mystery to this; that and the overall darkness.

I like the presence of the log, although I wish it was a little sharper. I realize there’s water rushing over the top which obscures the view of the wood detail, so it helps to understand that.

Quite a lot going on including the cross of faint streams in the LR, plus the splashes around… Oh, and the light -

I think nicely seen and captured. Looking forward to more of your images!


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