It is dawn in a valley of the Gran Sasso

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


The Gran Sasso (big stone) is the highest mountais massif in Abruzzo, in central Italy. It is not very high compared to the Alpin peacks, only 2.903 meters, but it is a serious mountain. Every year some mountaineer dies for taking light its paths. I admired this narrow valley while hiking very early in the morning.

Technical Details

Z7ii, Nikkor 70-200mm at 70mm - F/11, 0,3 sec, ISO 64


Hi Giuseppe,
A beautiful scene for sure.
The first thing I noticed was the rocks at lower right being a brighter value than the mountains or the light… so my question is - what is your subject? I’d be inclined to burn down that area and make the mountains a bit more prominent… also the dark hillside occupies a great deal of real estate in the frame, and yet doesn’t really add much value to the overall aesthetic. Perhaps a crop from the right to emphasize those nice clouds at center would be a way to fix that problem.

Giusepppe, another of your wonderful landscapes. I get a very unusual feeling looking at it. It seems I am standing on the very edge of the hill. I am feeling the bodily sensation I get when I am at the edge of a precipice looking down. It borders on being afraid of heights, but this is just a picture. It is that powerful. I agree with @Matt_Payne about burning the rocks to the right. I think if you can bring out more detail in the dark mountain in the mid foreground it would balance the contrasts. I would not crop it, however. There is too much interesting sky detail on the right side of the frame.

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Thanks Matt for the good advise now I understand that there are too many subjects. I have tried to crop the intrusive hill and to burn down the forground.
In the second repost I followed also Barbara suggestion that try to save the nice details in the right side of the image without cropping but only burning down the right side.
Too difficult to chose for me.

Thanks also to you Barbara for the alternative to crop the right side of the image. I too like those details so I tried to darkening the right side and the forground as you suggested. I am not sure about what I have done.
I like both solutions so I am anable to choose.

A great scene. I wish I had pitched my tent there somewhere and saw this scenery when I woke up in the morning.
I understand the comments made by @Matt_Payne and @Barbara_Djordjevic . Although the rock in the lower right corner is so bright that it pulls the eye, I think that it adds to the scene. So I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a crop, and you also lose part of the sky. Maybe I make it even more difficult for you to chose, or maybe you dislike what I did with your image, but I add a third suggestion. I darkened the bright rock in the LRC and added some contrast to other parts of the landscape.

Thanks Han, that is you lowered the impact of the forground and increased the impact of all the rest. Naturally I can’t help but like also your solution because is the closest to my original photo.
The choise is always more difficult for me!

@Han_Schutten has the same idea that I do. I had editted this wonderful picture earlier this afternoon and will post it, even though it is similar to Han’s version. I think the warm spots in the frame need to be emphasized . I opened the picture in PS and went to camera RAW and did an AUTO change and then opened up the shadows almost all the way. I had to pull back on the white slider because if was clipping. Then back in PS I burned, and dodged the image. The rock color became too saturated so I desaturated it almost completlyy and darkened it slightly. All of that burning was on a layer in the multiply blend mode with a black mask. Then I applied a layer of 50% gray in a overlay blend mode and dodged the warm areas with a white brush. The advantaage of dodging and burnin this way is that it is non destructive and you can go back and twick what you did. A multiply blend layer and back mask replace the burn tool. A 50% gray layer in the overlay bled mood alows you to dodge to your hear’s content in a non distructive way. Here is a screen shot of the PS layers and the finished picture. Please forgive me if this is information that is familiar to you. I learned it from the TK8 and 9 add on filters in PS.
screen shot

For me, it’s the play of the light in the foreground that makes this image, it draws me in. I like the direction @Barbara_Djordjevic took it, with emphasis on the LLC, perhaps little bit less for my taste, somewhere between that and @Han_Schutten’s version. Personally, I don’t find the edits with the de-emphasised/cropped foreground particulary stimulating, I don’t think there is enough light on the hills for that to work.

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Thanks Barbara and Thomas, your advice are similar and are also similar to my first vision so I think that your suggestions are for me the best choice. I will surely improve light and color in the LLC according with your advise and I will implement the other tips of Barbara that has been so kind helping me with the editing.
Thanks again.

Thanks, Giuseppe, this is certainly a beautiful picture.