Expansive Gorge View

This is my very first post. I am new to photography and I am trying to work very hard to get better, especially at landscapes. This was taken last week on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge . I am open to ALL feedback (composition, editing, etc) as I really want to improve. It is not my favorite picture…but those are the ones we learn from most, right?

Technical details: Panasonic GX85, 14-140 mm lens @ 14 mm, f9, 1/500, ISO 200, hand held. Edited a bit in Lightroom.

Thanks in advance!

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Hi, Becky. Welcome!

Understand, I am strictly an amateur photographer, but I love this view! For my taste, I might have cropped out a bit more of the foreground, and perhaps a bit on the left side, but I understand you were going for a panoramic view. Keep shootin’!


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Hi Becky and welcome!
You’ve found yourself a nice overview of the area here, the river and sky add some depth to the scene. What strikes me most is how the foreground lacks some interest or ‘direction’. Some items in it are a bit close to the edges of the photo (the tree on the left, the white flowers in both lower corners), the rock to the right of the middle). Maybe try placing the items to create some more depth, cleanliness and interest. You could also try getting closer to an item in particular, but getting too close may mean focus-stacking, if only of 2 images.
I personally don’t find the dam (railway?) and its line in the river so appealing and would have tried to cover it up with a tree or something in the composition, keeping the line of the river. Easier said than done probably :wink:

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Hey Becky. Welcome to NPN. If you are anything like me in wanting to improve, I think you’ll find having your photographs critiqued within a community of very respectful and talented folks, enormously helpful. I would also encourage you to critique other’s photographs. We learn to critique through practice and critiquing the work of others is, in my experience, one of the best ways to learn to see, which is so much of what photography is all about.
I think it is important to remember when we take a picture, that what our eyes are able to see isn’t , for the most part, what we are actually perceiving. What I mean is, when you looked out on this scene I’m sure this is roughly what you saw. But the question is, what compelled you to take the picture? What were you actually looking at? What was it that was affecting you and how were you being affected? Even though your eyes can take in “everything”, you’re not perceiving everything. Another way of thinking about this is to simply ask the question, “what is this picture I’m taking, about”? Because I don’t believe we can make a photograph be about everything in our line of sight. And I think that is the most difficult question for any photographer. At the moment we press the shutter button we have to have asked, “what is this picture about and why am I taking it?” Because it isn’t about everything I see. Mostly, I think, it has more to do with what I feel. So, it seems to me that my job as a photographer is to make that connection between what I see and what I feel. If I can do that for myself I have a better than even chance of doing that for the reader of my photographs as well. Anyway, those are things I’m thinking about these days and maybe they will be helpful for you too. I look forward to seeing more of your photographs as well as your insight into those of others.


Thank you for that perspective! I was trying to find something interesting in the foreground…but couldn’t quite see it. I appreciate you pointing out the line in the river. I am so used to seeing it, as I hike this area often, it didn’t dawn on me that it could be distracting or unappealing. Great feedback!

Yes! You have articulated what I have been feeing about my large landscape photography. I feel like I’ve at least gotten to the point where I can take a pretty picture that captures the scene realistically. But I am missing some “it” factor…something compelling to others…the story. This is really great. Thank you!

Welcome aboard, Becky. A nice first post and you have gotten some good feedback. I would agree with Ron about the dam. Maybe clone it out? Also I would consider cloning the vegetation along the bottom that is in the more extreme foreground. I find those really jump at me when looking at a larger version.

Looking forward to seeing more of your work and reading your insights.

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Thank you for your observations! I agree about the distracting elements. It will give me an excuse to go back and shoot again - darn! :slight_smile:

Welcome to NPN Becky, and your comment is at the core of what NPN critique is about.

As you can see from the comments here, paying attention to small details can make a big difference. Eliminating distractions along frame edges is important. They often fall into two categories, bright objects near the edge, and lines or elements that lead out of the frame. The tree on the left is a distraction, but primarily due to bright patches of grass to the left of the trunk. A slight crop on the left eliminating the bright patches and trunk would greatly reduce the distraction aspect of the tree. The rock and white flower in the lower right corner (LRC) are examples of things that can lead the viewers eye out of the frame.

Now lets talk about some things that you did well. For me leading lines need to lead the viewer to something of interest. And you have that here with the clouds and distant mountains. You also avoided a merger of the dam and the tree, which would have created a distraction if they overlapped. And speaking of the dam / rail line, I actually think it works well in this image, I think it’s distinctive shape helps make the Columbia River a better leading line than it would be by itself. Photography is very subjective, some viewers will dislike the dam and some won’t. Bear that in mind as you receive comment here at NPN. Some comments will appear contradictory, but ultimately, take it as a learning process, and do what feels right to you.

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Welcome to NPN. As you can already see, there’s great input delivered in a friendly and instructive manner. I found that critiquing images (I do mainly avian) really helped me understand what I liked in an avian photo and I’m sure that’s true for all types of photography.
I don’t do much landscape photography, but being from Oregon I know the gorge well. My thought would be a 5x4 crop eliminating the tree on the left and some of the sky. This would narrow the focus a bit on the foreground, which is typical of the eastern part of the gorge and leads on to the river, which itself leads through the photo. I would definitely leave the train tracks. They form their own leading line and the tracks (like it or not) are an integral part of a trip along I84.

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Thank you! I don’t mind the contradictory opinions. It works for me! I was thinking that the dam acted like a leading line when I composed the picture. I can see why it works for some but not all. I was trying to get some foreground elements, but I realize now they don’t flow with the rest of the scene.

Thanks Allen! I feel a bit shy giving critiques since I am new, but I will try to step out of my comfort zone to make contributions.

I felt the same way when I joined and, to some extent, still do. There are a lot of outstanding photographers on this site and it can feel a bit incongruous to suggest improvements to their work. But, telling someone why you liked their work lets them know they made an impact on you and has helped me better understand what I need to be doing when I create a photograph.

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Welcome aboard Becky, wanted to chime in on your first post, but I see many good folks have said what I would have. Looking and commenting on photos helped helped my progression in photography. At first the causeway bothered me but it is part of the area and I would want it represented. I think the @Allen_Brooks crop sounds right, I would also consider eliminating the grass and flower foreground and let the hillside field carry that area of the image since that earth tone color is repeated throughout the picture. I think it would also give better presence to that nice tree cluster in the lower right area. Keep at it, working the craft keeps me out and about in the natural world. Good Luck.

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Not being familiar with the scene it bothered me some, even though it creates / emphasizes the leading line. But I understand it’s just part of the river there, so I wouldn’t clone it out, but I would probably have played with the composition a bit to avoid it, or so much of it.
And like Ed mentioned, this is just a personal opinion. In the end you are the one that should be most pleased with your end result. :slight_smile:

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