I Don't Want to be Free

This leaf enjoys its brief final moment of glory embedded in birefringence, before the sheet of ice falls and shatters on the ground. As Bob Dylan sings: “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

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.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

Wedging a thin sheet of ice vertically between two bricks, at an angle to also catch distant reflections of plastic greenhouse roofs, I tried to get this shot as sharp as possible without stacking, as the ice was melting quickly.

Technical Details

D500 + 105mm macro + CPL 1/1250 f8 ISO 250

Cropping, tonalities in PS and sharpening.


I love this image.
I think the story here works nicely.
My only complaints are technical ones that you may or may not care about. I do wish more of the image was in focus, but as you mentioned you didn’t stack and it sounds like it would have been impractical anyways.
I think it might be oversharpened globally - so you might go back and do that but apply the sharpening only to the areas you want, using layer masks.
Really cool shot!

Thanks @Matt_Payne ! Your comments are much appreciated.

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Hi Mike, I’m digging the colors, the arc, and the patterns in your image. Sounds like it was not an easy one to capture in the field given the angle of the ice. Really cool image! I even see a little duck on the right of the leaf. Matt mentioned my main suggestion for the image which is global oversharpening.

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This awesome! Wow, unbelievable find and capture. So very cool as Matt already commented.

The crispness and detail is amazing. I think without seeing the original, I’d be hard pressed to think it was over sharpened.

I am very curious about the background. If anything you might consider cropping out the blue at the top - maybe. I’m just completely unsure what the bg is. The white/gray almost look like car headlight patterns, remnants. The repeating patterns suggestion motion, another reason I’m not understanding the non-ice bg. And maybe I don’t need to. The amazing colors and the leaf encased in the ice is all fantastic enough!


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Thank you @Alfredo_Mora for your comments! You have a talent for spotting hidden shapes - now I even see a baby elephant blowing the leaf lower down! I think (possibly out of laziness) I’ll agree with Lon that oversharpening is not a big issue here, though certainly parts are not sharp enough, as Matt observed.

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Thanks @Lon_Overacker - I’m glad you like it. I feel the bg is integral to the shot. I tried to capture the reflections of 2 long plastic greenhouse roofs in the distance way beyond our garden (and I selectively reduced the highlights in PS) - I thought they kind of represented the bright chains of the outside world which the leaf was briefly escaping. The blue band is formed by trees along a river way beyond the greenhouses again! I can’t blame you for not knowing this; and indeed the composition may be better without this added blue. Let’s just say (for fun) that it’s an added symbolic layer, the skyway containing the chains.

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