First Photo of Fall

Hey guys!

Fall colors just started showing up around here and so I got out for an hour or so with my wife to stroll through some aspen groves and naturally, I ended up pulling out the camera. This was the first fall scene I have shot this season so I am feeling a little rusty. Maybe you guys can give me some feedback about what you feel is working in this scene and what is bugging you? I’m personally not crazy about it but can’t quite point my finger on why not so feel free to shoot straight with the critiques! I’m headed out to Colorado today so I will be shooting a lot more of these kinds of tree scenes very soon :slight_smile:

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

What works in this image? What doesn’t work in this image? Composition, processing, etc.

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I like the composition, the way the trees are arranged from front-right to back-left. I like the warm colors against the cooler. But I think I would still desaturate the blue trunks a bit.

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I think what bothers my eye is how the trees on the left lead you right out of the scene but I love the red in foreground!

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I can see what you mean, DK. It would have been nice to have one more, closer tree to kind of cradle in that edge, instead of them getting further and further away in a row like that, creating an arrow as you’ve shown. The foliage was awesome for sure, which is why I tried shooting this spot!

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Thanks, Ronald! I hate blue aspen trunks as much as the next guy! So I am always really careful with that and do quite a bit of desaturating at the beginning and at the end. My screen is calibrated and Im not seeing any blue in them, they look grey and neutral to me? I will take a closer look later and see if I need to drop the saturation more though, you could be right and thats a point that I can respect due to my aforementioned hatred of blue tree trunks!


First, this is without any changes a wonderful and strong autumn aspen image. To me the colors are natural and not overdone (blue reduction? maybe, but in the realm of personal choice.) I like that you’ve filled the frame with the trunks and included the autumn colors top and bottom.

Very hard to be critical here, but you asked… :wink: I’d call this a “tweener” image. It’s between an image all about aspen boles and a bit wider classic autumn aspen grove. Real picky, the main trunk up front feels a little “in your face” like I would want to back up a step or two. Of course I don’t know what lies outside the frame of this image, so you probably made the best choice.

Not too different than David’s comment about falling off to the left… the main trunk almost visually blocks the entrance to the scene and harder for the eye to wander deeper in to the image. (Great dof BTW.) A slightly wider view might bring in more color bottom and mostly top, but then maybe not.

I’d say my critique is really picky and without being there maybe not even fair. Very minor thoughts indeed. .02.


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Thanks for the compliments, Lon, as well as the suggestions!

Scooting back would have meant having more trees in the way, obstructing, since I had my back right up against another treeline, and shooting wider would have included sky since it started right at the top edge of this frame, or panning down to avoid the sky would have meant too bottom heavy. I can see what you mean though, and it wasn’t ideal for shooting because I wasn’t able to get the exact perspective and framing that I would have liked to.

Eric, this is a nice image, the soft light and colors here are great. I also like the mixture of strong colors, red, yellow and a little green. And you Colorado folks with autumn images already are making me supremely jealous as those of us in New England are sitting around waiting while our foliage is still all green and running one to two weeks behind normal progression :frowning_face:

If I had to offer any suggestions for improvement it would be following. I think what’s unique about this image is the red ground cover, and I wish the composition emphasized that more. I would suggest re-composing or cropping this to take some off the top, and in the field I would have tried to show a little more of the red plants. I think you need to show some of the yellow aspen leaves for color contrast, so if you were to crop this, I wouldn’t take much off. But I also think this is nicely done as presented.

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I generally like this image. I struggle with forest scenes so I always like to see others that have a cohesive composition.

My nitpicks:

  1. My eye is mainly drawn to the largest, closest tree, but I don’t think it’s really interesting enough to have all that attention. The most interesting stuff to me is the details and the colors, but that’s not what I’m first drawn to, and I have to go out of my way to see it.

  2. I mean this as a compliment on your other photos - this one just doesn’t have the personality and character imbued in it that I expect out of a Eric Bennett photograph. I mean, just look at this stuff! The image in this thread looks like it would be in my dentist’s office, which isn’t bad, but it’s just lacking some kind of je ne sais quoi.

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I find these images are really nice, but tough to get the right sequencing of trees to make them work. I’m far from adept at doing so. I came back to this image a couple of times because something just felt off with the colors and balance. I saw the comment about the blue tint to the aspen trees. I’m not so sure it is blue, but feels more gray. I did a bit of work to see what color corrections might do. This is what I came up with. I think the trees feel more natural with this balance. YMMV.


Sweet image Eric. I think all it needs is a few unicorns and an aurora and you’re sorted.

Seriously though, I only have two main small critiques - the batch of yellow leaves on the bottom left in amongst the red distracts me a little bit. If you’re amenable to the idea, changing them to red would really help underscore the power of the red in that section of the image.

Secondly, consider an entirely new and separate version of (not replacing) this image where you crop it to square and get rid of the red altogether. Two images for the price of one!

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I think Keith Bauer nailed the color…
I like it, I just wish the center tree was a bit smaller…

I can really relate to your difficulties with this image. I have visited a birch grove nearby and walked through several times without coming back with anything satisfying. The problem here as in my case is too much chaos. The scene is busy. The front tree is the only point of focus and it’s not strong enough to hold everything together. There is some harmony here with horizontal colored layers within the vertical whites but the whites are too random

The rework does look better with the color cast but the reds on the bottom are overpowering in my opinion. Also the yellow leaves coming in from the left draw the eye.

Another issue are those black knots. No question about it, coming up with a good composition here is challenging.

The scene is really nice for colors and subject, @Eric_Bennett . Overall I really enjoy the layers in terms of colors and patterns
I think the repost works better in terms of colors even if I do find the composition a little bit too tight.
It looks you did not use an extreme wide angle lens (28/35mm I guess but I might be wrong), maybe with a wider lens you would have managed to outdistance the trunks a little bit more with exactly the same composition.

Some good comments here, and I definitely like Keith’s color changes. That alone almost does it for me, but the overall scene still appears a little dull on my laptop monitor (disclaimer - I’m in a brightly lit hospital room at the moment, so that may be the cause of the image looking dull). By dull, I mean slightly dark and lacking in contrast. I might suggesting boosting overall brightness just a bit and, if needed, boost contrast just a small bit. Overall, I’m envious of the scene though, I wish we had aspens here in the south!

Thanks for the input, Ed! And I agree, the coolest thing about the scene is the red foliage on the floor, which is why I attempted at all to make it work. I have some other comps that show more of the red foliage but they feel a bit too bottom heavy. I think it just may not have been the most ideal spot to shoot in the end.

@Brent_Clark Haha, I feel you man, no worries, and I take that as a compliment! I feel the same way, it just isn’t really doing it for me 100% and doesn’t feel up to my standard as far as other autumn scenes I have shot. I’m hoping I will find some better stuff this year, this was just a warm up :slight_smile:

@Keith_Bauer Thanks for taking some time to play with it! I appreciate your thoughtful advice and I think it looks nice, I don’t know if I will bother tweaking the image because like I said, I’m not crazy about it so I wasnt planning on ever releasing it anyways, just wanted to see what kind of things people would point out about it. If I don’t end up getting anything nicer though, I may come back to it and see if I can polish this turd enough to disguise it :wink:

@Sam_Ison Glad to see you on here with the rest of the cool kids man! I can see your point, if I ever try to work this image again I will try that adjustment and see if it improves it. I’m pretty sure I will find some better stuff this weekend though so I’m not stressin. Thanks for the input dude!

@Dan_Kearl I can see your point man

@Igor_Doncov Agreed, forest scenes are the most difficult to shoot IMO, which is why we don’t see many great images of them. However, I don’t mind a little bit of chaos or mystery, since nature isn’t “perfect” in the way we usually think of it, and sometimes it’s nice to show off the messiness of the forest in an artistic and compositionally effective way. I always like to allow for a little bit of that in my images so it feels organic instead of too contrived and unnatural, taking away all mystery. I don’t mind the black knots either, since thats how 98% of aspens usually look. Anywho, thanks for the feedback my friend!

@Mattia_Oliviero Unfortunately I couldn’t really move around as much as aI would have liked, since I had to stand on the topmost point of a boulder to get this angle, otherwise I would have been below the red foliage too much. So I didn’t have any other choice of where to put myself. I shot it at 100mm or so from a fair distance in order to keep everything in focus as best I could since it was a pretty deep scene. Thanks for the feedback though, I definitely would have liked to have been able to scoot back a bit to make the tree smaller and make it less cluttered or have gotten closer to spread it out a bit. Oh well!

@Bill_Chambers I could play with that a bit for sure, it’s always tough knowing where to dial it in with these types of scenes, I like to keep them on the softer side while also having them pop nicely. Thanks for the feedback!


Hi @Eric_Bennett
I love this kind of image, and you are a master of it imho, but in this particular one I’m not sure about WB specially on the trunks, it looks very greenish.
I will try to pop up colors and change this wb correction.
My 2 cents.

That glowy light is very nice. I think what might bother you is the strong element right in front and slightly off centered. Gives me a bit of an uneasy feeling but I do like the comp. Might hit the contrast a bit more, esp at the bottom but overall a fun image. Neat!


Hey dude! Thanks a lot for your kind compliment. I still struggle plenty with these kinds of scenes though, as you can see :wink:

Is your monitor calibrated? On my calibrated monitor, the trunks are very neutral and if they hint towards any color it would be blue, but they are mainly grey. Not seeing any green in them on any of my screens?

@Aaron_Feinberg Yo Aaron! Thanks a lot for the kind words. It’s awesome to see you on here, my good friend Mark Handy has told me so many great things about you! I can understand what you mean about the uneasy feeling. For me it feels a tad too cluttered, which is usually the issue with these kinds of aspen groves. Thanks for your input!

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@Eric_Bennett When I first looked at the image I noticed that the trunks looked have a slight cyan cast; not so much blue.

Today, when I came back to read the comments and saw @Keith_Bauer’s adjusted repost, my initial thought was confirmed.

I view images on a calibrated NEC monitor.

I think it would be instructive for all of us aspen junkies for Keith to detail how he adjusted the color of the trunks. I know I struggle with this, and I am certain others do, as well.

It’s a nice image that says Autumn!

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