Hanging out

version 1

version 2

version 3

While wandering my favorite natural trail a couple of days ago, this wild grass (Chasmanthium - I believe) caught my eyes in the morning sun. I enjoy watching it change throughout the year and decided to try for a fall/winter capture.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • 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

I enjoy seeing the morning back lighting on anything. It is so pure and refreshing for me. These two image prove to be a wonderful exercise in post process and I am hoping you can give me feedback on them. As a side note, I did consider stacking them to get all of the pods sharp, however the winds were gusting at 10mph, this was way beyond my stacking abilities.

The subject, composition, and lighting for sure. But also about the two versions - they are the same image processed differently. Both were processed in ACR. V1 I used the profile linear Nikon Z6 and for the V2 version I used the Adobe color profile. In both images I used auto adjustment setting (with minor adjustments). Then made basic highlight/hot spot and cloning adjustment. Both were then taken into PS for cropping (5:4), added freehand vignette and soft pop (both with minor opacity adjustments).
Do either of the images speak to you, emotionally or tell a story better, more than the other? Other comments on the post processing are encouraged along with any other thoughts.

Thank you

Technical Details

Nikon Z6ii, f/5.6, 1/100sec., iso 200 @150mm (28mm-300mm), tripod, remote control.


Linda, you have the eye to capture something beautiful. I like the composition and the downward direction. I like version 2 because the contrast is more clear with the background. I am not sure about the the stem or leaf in the very lower corner as it draws me away of the main subject. That said the overall size of the subject helps. One thing I carry with me is wooden clothes pins so I can safely move something out of the way. It is a very artistic photo image. Nicely done.


Hi Linda, for me, the first one draws my eye so much more than the second one. This a beef I have with Adobe’s profiles and white balances. They always lean towards the cyan side, tint wise. Just look at the tint slider when you click auto white balance…always in the +11 range. (I know that’s weird coming from someone who’s red/green color blind; maybe that’s why it stands out more to me). The Nikon Linear profile feels much more natural to me…possibly a bit too much saturation, but only slightly.

So I will refer to Version 1 from here on. I think you have a nice composition here. I love how the branch curves and the smaller branches dangle down. The side/back light helps give the small leaves a wonderful glow. I think the background could be simplified with a low opacity clone/heal…it might take some work though. @Diane_Miller did that to one of my images and it did wonders for simplifying the background and making the subject stand out.

The first version is outstanding in my view. Nicely seen, Linda.


Thanks so much for your thoughts, Dean. The reason I posted two version is because I do like them both! The 2nd version precisely because it is brighter, more exciting for me. The main issue I had with #2 was the highlights/hotspots. So yes, if I had remembered that not only do I carry clothes pins with me but also very small clamps and some plastic ties for this very purpose. Now all I have to do is remember to get them out and use them! Thanks again.

Thank you, David for your kind thoughts. I have also noticed a huge difference between the results of the various profiles and agree that Adobe’s profile is always way over on the cyan side for me. I did reduce the blue saturation some but clearly left a bit as I like the color contrast. I also agree that Nikon’s linear profile is much more realistic.
I did use a mask in ACR to reduce the exposure, highlights, whites and shadows. So just for fun I went back into ACR and created a mask, lowered the exposure, texture and clarity in version 3.

Thanks again for your input.

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Version 3 is very, very good, Linda. Well done.

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Coming in late for the party, Linda, but I do like Version #3. Much better to me. I like the curve of the branch and the seed heads hanging. I also carry clothes pins but have also forgot about them, just getting into shooting the shot, and notice the stray whatever that need pinning back later in LR.

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Thank you, @Shirley_Freeman. I truly appreciate knowing I am not the only one who has taken all the extra paraphernalia only to have forgotten it in the excitement of the shot.

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Hmmm, I have to choose #1 or #3 as my favorites. I can’t tell a whole lot of difference between them except maybe the leaves are a little brighter in #3. I think the bright background in # 2 kind of overshadows the little plant. I like the soft yellows in #1 and how the light shines on the tips of the leaves. The BG blends in very nicely with the plant too. I also like how the plant loops downward. It adds interest for me. I have two small suggestions. That very round bright bokeh ball in the TC catches my eye and like a couple others mentioned, the leaf in the RLC also draws my eye down. I tend to like softer colors on delicate plants like these, so that doesn’t mean that #2 should be thrown out. You have a very nice photo to be proud of.

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Thanks, Donna, for your thoughts and suggestions. The bright boken ball (s) on the upper and lower edge I felt like I had subdue a bit in the 3rd version? Are they still too obvious for you? I do see what you mean about the leaf in the RLC and did some editing on it, but could never get it the way I wanted without looking obvious. Any thoughts?

Linda, Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) makes a great subject any time of the year, but especially in late fall/winter when it’s seed heads are still mostly attached. You’ve captured that very well here. I find V2 much too blue. I like V2 because the extra brightness in the background “feel” right for the lighting. It also add a bit more warmth to the viewing. You did very well capturing the arching shape of a single stalk and keeping the subject decently sharp. As a minor nit on V1, you might burn in the bright oof leaf behind the first (last??) seed stalk so it’s more like the luminosity that it has in V3.


What a lovely image you have shared here! I am really partial to say much because I love how delicate Chasmanthium looks. I call them by the common name of wild oats. In fact, I had a photo posted here back in August, but not as beautiful as yours. Whether in the morning sun, as you captured, or late afternoon hours, these images are magical to my eyes.

Out of the three edits, I prefer the first. Like those who have seen my photos here, I tend to go for more color. That first image vividly reminds me of what wild oats look like in person with the sunlight filtering through the tiny pods or backlighting the scene.

I appreciated that you did not bother to stack several images to get the oats all in focus. I think your image is more real for that fact. Even with low winds, these are such fragile plants that anything can move them. You captured reality. As for the dits, the second version seems less natural to my eyes. It could be your background might show more blue/cyan. Again, my experience has been more like versions 1 and 3.

Version 1 speaks to me and conveys the morning light and warmth better than the others. A macro shot captures the delicate nature of these leaves. Your image brings in peace. It reminds me of what wild oats symbolize: kindness, health, and wellness. I see those things in your image.

About your development, I found the colors very realistic. The composition and crop ratio was nicely done, too. You allowed some open space on the left side of the frame. That provides my eyes a place to rest and return to the oats. The only changes I would suggest would be on the right side. On the URC, the bright spot on that background leaf provides a subtle distraction. You could lower the brightness and make the background leaf more uniform with the rest of it. As for the foreground larger leaf on the LRC, I don’t know whether cloning out would be obvious, but I’d try that in PS or LR. In the very least, I’d mute that brightness more. Somehow, that leaf creates a certain unbalance with the rest of the branch and the main subject above it. I would go as far as cropping a little closer on the right side to eliminate that large unfocused leaf. With your blurred background, this type of crop could simplify and make the image less busy or heavy on the right side.

The lightness and color palette you captured here are mesmerizing to my eyes. This image is strong while at the same carrying a lot of tranquility to the viewer. Beauty flows and glows very nicely in your image.

Thanks for your thoughts, Mark. And yes, I totally agree v2 was an experiment in using different profile settings in ACR. Still working on getting the background highlights/hotspots reduced. In V3, I applied a mask to the background, brought the exposure down and also reduced the texture and clarity. Then added a freehand vignette in PS using TK8. Perhaps the solution is to reduce selected portion of the background and leave the texture/clarity as is. A work in progress for sure. Thanks again.

Thank you so much, Egidio, for your very kind words and for taking the time to comment. I think my favorite is somewhere between V1 and V3. As you, and others - myself included, have noted the hightlights/hotspots are distracting and even though I did attempt to reduce them, they clearly still need work. This whole process has reminded me of many things. Number one is to be more particular about my set up/composition when framing a scene. Thank you again.

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Linda: Not much to add to the prior comments but I do vote for #1 or #3. The BG in version 2 grabs way too much attention from me and detracts from a marvelous subject. Well seen and presented. >=))>

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Thanks for taking the time to comment, Bill, I appreciate your comments. Yes, clearly V2 was an exercise in “what if I try. … .” Still working on a combined version of V1 and V2. Thanks again.