Every class of life

Image Description

A view down to a sapling in 3+ feet of snow. I really like the contrasts here both with the thin branches and the marshmallowy snow. Also how some of the formations seem to follow the line of the twigs. The texture in the snow was fun to bring out in this one - it was about 40 degrees and so melting on the top ever so slightly. When this happens, the top develops a shiny crust that I tried to get in other photos - you can only see it in direct sunlight.

Type of Critique Requested

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

  • 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

Normally I go for realism in my edits, but this is a tiny bit fanciful and I like it. How does it strike you?

Technical Details


Lr for all processing starting with Winter 02 preset at 125%. Some transform to correct geometry. Mask to even light. Clarity and texture and some sharpening. Removed debris in snow, too.


This is excellent Kristen. Simple yet so elegant. I can’t think of a thing to change. What’s strange is that if you blank stare at this without moving your eyes and then move your eyes you will see the branch in white on the snow itself. It lasts about 5 seconds. But if you move your eyes around the white branch does as well. Anyway, I’m seeing white lines in the snow that appear and disappear.

Kristen, to me your image is beautiful in its simplicity. While still complex. Love it !


Cool snow texture. I bet the snow had weighed down the branches and they finally popped out as the snow softened, so you got those branching lines in the snow. No suggestions from me.

I hadn’t tried that @Igor_Doncov, but contrasty stuff is like that. When I come into the dim garage after snow blowing without sunglasses (because they mostly just get covered in snow), everything is green for a few seconds, like wearing night vision goggles. Similar effect I bet. Small scenes like this are a staple of my winter photography, but many get posted in flora because that’s mostly what they are; leaves, dried flowers and tiny trees. This time I decided to place it in Landscape as an experiment.

Thanks @Ben_van_der_Sande - the contrast of simple and not-so-simple is a real attraction for me in winter. Snow can help by paring things down to their basic elements. Good thing I love it since it lasts so long.

You could be right about the snow patterns @Bonnie_Lampley - I hadn’t thought of that. The interplay between snow and the things it covers is really interesting. I have been photographing it this winter with an eye to discovering and displaying the varying colors in snow depending on light.


Outstanding! Love this so much! The combined arrangement of the little branches AND the forms and detail in the snow are just wonderful together. I think if you just had flat snow (even with sparkles…) that this would not have the same impact.

We often speak of the imperfect things in nature; the random chaos and messiness that we come across when in nature. Yet, how often do we come across something in nature that just seems “perfect”

Forget the story being told for a second (a very strong nature story btw), but just the layout of the little branches; the 5 (odd number) main little branches, perfectly arranged. One can see the buds forming - telling us spring is on the way.

Leave it to me though, to find something to suggest… as minute as it might be. If I was to suggest anything, it would be to add a very slight bit of CA canvas to the left. It’s not that the branch on left is too close to the edge, but that the distance is simply closer to the edge than the top and right? Pretty picky I’d say. Probably not worth the effort - that is, unless you decide to print or otherwise market this one.

No matter though, LOVE this one. Congrats - beautifully seen and captured.


Thanks @Lon_Overacker - you bring up perfection in nature and our desire to find or create it and I often find myself on the horns of that dilemma. How much do I clean up either on site or in post? Do I bother with a “messy” scene because it’s visually difficult to parse or misses our idea of beauty? I usually post these in Flora because essentially that’s what they are, but Flora isn’t a hotspot here and so feedback is hard to come by sometimes. That left branch did give me pause, but when I saw the main stem is basically centered, I left it that way for a little natural tension and disorder. I can see the attraction of centered in terms of the spray of branches, though.

You bring up an important point that should be made. It’s not black or white, perfect or imperfect - there’s everything thing and ever situation in between. For a broader landscape and scenic, or most images/scenes for that matter - pretty impossible to make “perfect” - and to what extent does one try and go there. But, can there be ties or situations where one might have the opportunity to make “more perfect?” I think in this particular image it “could be” a goal. Of course that’s not to say that it could be, or should be done on others. I think this one is special.

Granted, the idea of perfection in anything is an entirely human construct and totally subjective, but since we are so wired to respond to what we instinctively call beauty, it’s hard to ignore in photography. As nature photographers we often can’t arrange or control our subjects in any way except where we put our cameras in relation to them, and sometimes not even much of that. So finding those “perfect” moments takes work in the field and in post. I try to keep in mind that to a large degree we now have the discretion painters have always had - the choice to leave it in or take it out by the magic of post processing and AI. My goal is to make a photo that is at least engaging even if not everyone finds it beautiful, but if I can produce something that is both, that’s even better.

But sometimes my work, especially my macro work, exists only to show people what they often don’t see. Whether its because they don’t know such things exist (like slime molds and lichen) or because they are “gross” (like insects and skulls), I like to show these things. Mostly because they fascinate me, but also because they are part of the larger story nature tells us.

I’m glad this little snow scene resonates with people because frankly, this is how our trees are up here for more than 1/2 the year. No field clean up was done, but some in post was necessary to keep eyes where I want them. All part of that balance. Oh jeez am I ever rambling! I have another image very like this, but with one semi-imperfection and I’d be interested in how you compare the two. I wonder if I should put it here or in a separate thread.

I too really like this one Kristin. The twigs are of course the star, and the simple lines they bring and the way you composed them in the image work very well. What I really like though, are the fascinating channels and patterns in the snow behind. That brings a whole different depth to the image; well done. Opening large, the icing (pun intended) on the cake is the tiny reflections of light in the ice crystals.

I really like your small-things-sticking-up-from-the -snow images! This one is a very good one with its very simplicity and the great subtle snow patterns in the BG.

Thanks @John_Williams - snow is so changeable and takes on so many different textures that photos of and with it can be very different throughout the season. Certainly keeps things interesting out there. The pattern here is from melted snow dropping off of trees. And it’s funny, I can kind of tell the temperature range by the sound of it as I walk. Not probably as good as Norwegians or Inuits, but I’m learning.

OMG, @Ola_Jovall that’s awesome. The Germans probably have a word for small-things-sticking-up-from-the-snow! I just learned one the other day that means a place where you put random sh*t (in your house). My 1/2 German friend’s mother used it in speech, but she never spelled it so the closest we could come is Apladeplatz which is basically phonetic. Hysterical.

Kris, this is wonderful for the simple symmetry. Well seen.

Thanks @David_Bostock - winter is the gift that keeps on giving. And giving. And giving. :cloud_with_snow: