In the eastern hardwood forest

This was shot several years ago in the backwoods of Tennessee, exploring the area my ancestors settled in the early 1700’s.

And some changes as suggested by Alex.

And an “artistic” version I did when I did the original,

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Canon 5D3, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 at 70, f/8, 1/180 sec, ISO 1600. Minimal tonal adjustments in LR, converted to B/W in LR and then into PS for slight cropping and lightening of a few of the darker branches with a masked curve. I wanted to keep any processing minimal other than the B/W conversion so did not even do any denoise.


That is really elegant Diane. It’s beautiful in its minimalism. There are a lot of leaf areas that appear less detailed/blurry, but I assume that was intentional.

Diane, I agree with John that this is a beautifully minimalistic and elegant photograph. I honestly have almost nothing to say about it, I think it’s truly excellent as is.

If I was getting super nitpicky, I would try lightening some of the very darkest areas (probably through a Darks 5 mask or so), and ever so slightly darkening or vignetting the area left of the main tree and ever so slightly brightening the 2/3 of the frame to its right. This would shift the overall luminosity and our attention over — because right now, I get drawn to the left edge of the frame a bit more than I do to the right. This could be that there’s just naturally more white space on the left given the placement of the trunks, in which case I would ask if maybe you could move the crop slightly to the right, just slightly, to shift the balance of white space with the framing instead. But I also don’t know what’s just out of frame to the right, maybe there’s another tree there!

Anyway, this is awesome no matter what you do to it. I love the high-key treatment.

Many thanks, @John_Williams and @Alex_Noriega! I did a subtle darkening of the trunks with a TK mask and added a slight vignette – posted above. I do think it is a more dynamic presentation. There was another tree on the right that felt uncomfortably close to the frame, and I didn’t feel the added information did much. I have also posted an “artistic” version I did at the same time, that is full frame.

The changes really add some depth and dynamism to the image, Diane. Well done. I like your artistic version too.

Hey Diane, the changed version looks perfectly balanced to me now, and I see exactly what you mean about the crop! The artistic version is really neat and interesting as well, but I am still drawn to the white one.

I still think the very deepest blacks could be lightened a bit. It also seems the revision got darker overall and the original feels more “pure” - maybe somewhere in-between for overall luminosity? But like I said, this has all been nitpicking to get the last 1% of the image there. It’s really a great one!

Thanks again, @Alex_Noriega! It’s that last 1% that can make an image!!

Oh I like the rework! The crop was the right way to go for sure. The slightly darker trunks and the subtle vignette preserve the light foliage in a natural way. Superb.


This is why I love photographing trees! Scenes like this and you’ve captured this one beautifully.

Like with many of the posts lately, it seems that most suggestions are simply tweaks and personal preferences and NOT to fix things. Well, I actually take that back because I do have a nitpick on this one that I don’t think was mentioned. There’s a small cluster of leaves just to the left of center that I’m calling an eye magnet. I attempted a very poor CA-clone - but then I didn’t even think of masking and addressing that way… but at least to my eye, that bright cluster is distracting.

Mitigating that, I also tweaked the contrast/brightness, and tried to retain some darks in the trunk to help define the form of the main tree.

Great vision on this scene. This version may or may not be your vision.

Good thoughts, @Lon_Overacker. When I made the image I liked the bright clump (the light on it was nice) but it was obviously OOF and I apparently didn’t feel it would stack well enough to even try. (That was back then…) I knew I would try to do something abstract-ish and was hoping it would add some interest, but that’s yet another example of being biased by something we thought we had seen rather than what the actual possibilities were.

I think you have a very good point (many thanks for the insight!) and I could remove/conceal it, probably better in the original color layer. I’ll have a go at it soon. Swamped right now with dragonfly focus stacks – an insane proposition. Came home with 1700 frames a few days ago but got 5-6 decent keepers after many hours of computer time.