Going to Pieces Gracefully - Repost2

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


A walk in the Klamath woods. Rainy day in the forest. Getting old and breaking down. Laying gracefully on the ground.

But my wife helped me back up. . .

Specific Feedback

This was a somewhat dark and very busy scene with the branches and grasses and trees and mosses. I tried to look at different angles, a bit lower but the trunk of the tree was lost, a bit higher and it didn’t have the right depth. I toned down the branches and the standing tree on the left a bit, and tried to highlight the downed tree by lightening and dehazing it a bit.

Technical Details

Canon 5D MIII, iso 3200, f22, 1/125 sec, -0.5 exp bias, 47 mm (24-105 lens)

I like the way the image tells a story Ed. The image is really busy, but the fallen tree still stands out. Those brighter sky areas snag my eye up to the top a bit. I could see reducing their luminosity some, or even copping some/all away.

Hi Ed, I like the story here. As @John_Williams said, it’s quite busy, but the tree does show. I think these are very hard images to make - something out of the chaos of the forest - but you did well. I agree with the brighter sky bits being somewhat distracting, and so I cropped them out with my hand and found that I like the tighter view as it brought the fallen tree out even more. Perhaps bringing down the luminosity will help do the same thing. Worth a try!

I’m with @brenda_tharp on cropping out the sky. The image is very flat tonally – has an HDR look. It is very interesting and look well-captured. Maybe another look at processing from the raw step? This is the sort of image where I want to go opposite of flattening detail, and would go for a Nik Glamour Glow look. It can impart some magic to images like this!

Ed, I too think this is a great look at what life and death in a forest. The fallen tree is shown well and it holds the surrounding together nicely. Add me to those thinking that cropping most of the sky would be a nice, subtle improvement, particularly since the sky’s cooler colors are a visual change of pace.

@John_Williams, @brenda_tharp, @Diane_Miller, and @Mark_Seaver thank you for your recommendations. Not sure if I got anywhere close to what you were suggesting, but here is another crop and rework of the snag in the forest. I don’t have the Nik, or Orton effect that I know of, but tried to lighten and contrast more in the areas I wanted to focus on. I appreciate your help.

Another idea is to crop just from the top and not tighten up on the sides. The look I was referring to can largely be achieved by going back to the raw file and just not flattening the tonalities so much. I almost never touch the Contrast slider, but start first with Shadows and Highlights. But if you go too far you can get a flat look. A gentle bit of Clarity will restore some midtone contrast without so much damage to the ends of the histogram. Then I think with a different balance on the original you will have leeway to do more work in PS. Maybe the TK masks could help? It is a complex image but very interesting and well worth some work.

Thank you @Diane_Miller Diane. I’ll go back to the original and give it another shot.