Express (+1 rework)

Alternative w/Bonnie’s crop idea -

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’m not sure that the arrangement is at all compelling or worthy of being photographed. This is one of many beach wrack images I made during the day, but don’t know if it was just my delight of the experience or if it has merit. I’m usually not this unsure about my work, but for some reason I am with this day’s output and I haven’t shared any so far.

Creative direction

Simple scenes and minimalism are something I mostly do in winter since snow simplifies so well. As does sand and so here is a first image from my time on the island. The seaweed and sand are ever changing and this is just one moment. One arrangement. It’s the most organic in the series because the subject is a plant while most of the others are typical beach wrack; rocks or shells. A bird skeleton.

Specific Feedback

I guess my question is whether this holds up on its own in a natural presentation or if it lacks staying power for the viewer. Does it require some more obvious processing technique to have that?

Technical Details



Lr for basic processing and a bit of a crop and rotation. Added contrast, exposure and texture. Photoshop for some sleight of hand and CAF work.


This doesn’t happen to me often, but I’ve been sitting on a bunch of images from my time on Long Island in Maine back in June. I don’t know why exactly. I worked on a few, but didn’t have any strong feelings about processing and so I noodled a bit and just left things. I think I was torn with the idea that I needed to present some of them in a less than natural way - a more stylized and dramatic way. Not something I often do. Mostly I prefer to leave nature’s drama to nature and not amplify it very much and thus this first look.

I find this arrangement interesting, Kris. I wouldn’t do anything to it from a luminosity or saturation standpoint. When I look at it, I find myself trying to force those four small bits of vegetation into a more obvious trajectory, but that would look rather contrived. I think I’m as ambivalent about this one as you are. And, yes, I have a ton of beach wrack images in the files and I’ve processed very few of them.

What lovely colors! I, too, have a bunch of beach wrack images that haven’t gone anywhere.

This has a nice energy for me, with the directional lines of the kelp and the little red bits looking like they’ve been blown in the same direction. I think a tighter/different crop would accentuate that story. I tried a 16x9, cutting off the bottom of the kelp with the idea that the viewer would then have to imagine what was down there, possibly increasing their engagement with the photo. The pano view I thought would accentuate the motion. Also gave it a bit of S curve to increase contrast/pop the color.

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Thanks @Dennis_Plank & @Bonnie_Lampley - I appreciate the honesty and perspective. Funny you cropped closer, Bonnie. I expanded the canvas from a narrower crop so I could get some rotation and room to move, but maybe coming closer and leaving things to the imagination is a way to engage as well. It never occurred to me and I appreciate having my awareness and thought process expanded.

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I quite like this as composed but then I saw what @Bonnie_Lampley did and it immediately gave the image a sense of motion and the original seems static by comparison. Because the branch in the LLC comes into the frame from outside I get that sense of motion I mentioned, almost like the creature is eating the smaller pieces of kelp, one in the mouth and the others being chased. I’m not sure if that makes any sense but that’s what I see.
I think if the sand had more texture flowing through it the original wouldn’t appear so static. Also, it’s so nicely arranged that it almost feels like the components of the image have been staged and maybe that’s why I get that static feeling. It’s beautiful for sure but I think Bonnie’s crop adds a new dimension to it.

Hmmm – I dunno – for me the original crop gives it a sense of formality but doesn’t look contrived, just discovered. I saw the thumbnail and thought that must be Kris, but, no, that isn’t snow, so… oh – I recognize the avatar. I was right!

I think it is very interesting and evocative of a flatbed scan with a piece of artsy paper laid over it.

Thanks @David_Haynes - Funny you mention the sand - I have a ton of shots where the water created tiny river beds in the sand and those have a much more dramatic sense of movement than this one. Bonnie’s suggestion is a sound one and I’ll revise with it in mind before I move on.

Interesting comparison to a scanner image @Diane_Miller and that you had any idea this might be mine from the thumbnail. I wonder sometimes if I have any recognizable style and I guess I have a little.

New edit in OP, btw.

This is not a wow image, but I find it interesting and certainly worth working on IMO. I think intimate scenes like this certainly have merit and I think you made the most of what you were presented with. I do like the sense of motion portrayed in this image with the diagonal placement of the elements. Nicely done.

I think that this is quite nice! The image has great energy and it almost feels like an illustration of a plant or a tree in a big gale and it’s leaves or seeds being blown off and carried in the wind. I also like the variety of colours that all of so well together and the crop adds a bit more mystery to the image.

Thanks @Ed_Lowe & @Tom_Nevesely - that sense of motion or blowing away was what drew me to the scene and affected how I processed it. I even used a little sleight-of-hand to emphasize that aspect. Glad it worked for you and I’ll see if I can dig up the rest of them and put them somewhere. Maybe the project category …