Just avoiding hyperbole

A favorite from my Fall Cypresses workshop in 2020. For a change we spent the sunset on foot in a local park. Nothing in terms of a traditional landscape was working for me so I hung out on one of the boardwalks with a bunch of other photographers and locals with kids waiting for the sun to set so that the light would get to that subtle in-between stage that only happens for a few minutes after the sun goes behind the trees, but not the horizon. That’s when this heron decided to come out from behind some trunks where it was also patiently waiting, but for dinner.

I didn’t bring my 100-400 for this outing and was at first bummed, but made the best of it with my 35-100. In retrospect I’m glad since this wider view might not have occurred to me if I was trying to get a portrait of the bird.

In processing I wanted to keep this rich, but mellow. There wasn’t an obvious entry point to a landscape, so I went for the repeating pattern of the cypress trees leading to the back of the pond. The heron is in a perfect spot, compositionally and I did my best to highlight it, but also keep it like a little surprise. I think that’s what will make this a good jigsaw puzzle - the unfolding scene and the little bonus. Especially when you’re trying to do it without a guiding photo.

Specific Feedback Requested

Impressions and ideas for processing welcome.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No


Lr for a crop & initial RAW development which didn’t need much, but some careful management of the contrast was needed as was some work with gradient and radial filters to lead the eye. For some reason it was kind of soft overall so I ran it through Topaz Sharpen and then to Photoshop for some distraction removal.

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That would certainly make a challenging puzzle, Kris. Nice one.

Beautiful photo, Chris. Love all of the detail you got in the trees and the vertical lines they’ve created. I certainly would not want to have to put this together . . .but would love it after it was done!

This is such a great image Kris! It’s a little hypnotic, especially in the top left corner. The heron is the icing on the cake and through no small part of your own. Love the subtle, but rich and limited palette.

A wonderful jigsaw of shape and lines.

This one works really well, as an image and a puzzle candidate. I really like how the composition kind of opens up as you go from left to right and provides a real nice stage to showcase the heron. Very well done.

Thanks so much @David_Bostock, @linda_mellor, @glennie & @Harley_Goldman - it was a tricky situation to try to exploit, that’s for sure. Almost everywhere you look in a cypress lake is beautiful and interesting, but sometimes a bit random and messy, too. Trying to make order out of chaos is a puzzle itself.

You did it very well here, with the diagonal line of the trees and then the bird framed by them. Delightful!

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Thanks @Diane_Miller - I thought it worked pretty well and cropped more to improve that line of trees. Lucky for me I had that particular spot on the observation deck.

I am so glad you did not have your 100-400. This is fantastic Kris. The composition is perfect with the tree line leading through the image and the heron taking it’s spot in the relatively empty LR portion of the image. I would not change a thing. I can see how this was a favorite from the trip. Just beautiful.