Looking through

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This shot was taken at one of the iconic location in the Dolomites (Lago Federa). After I’ve taken the obvious shots I was looking for a more intimate and original scene. I came across this dead tree that had a hole in its trunk. It was a while after sunrise when the sun was high enough to shine over the mountain range in front of me. The photograph was difficult to take as the dynamic range and the depth of field was huge. I had to exposure bracket and focus stack.

Specific Feedback

I think I did not capture enough information to prevent the highlights from slightly blowing out and to have focus and sharpness in every corner of the foreground. I also think I could improve on color balance.
What I am most concerned about is if the picture is still perceived a “natural” or rather overprocessed.

Technical Details

Fuji X-T4
Fujinon 16-80 lens
ISO 160
1/6 sek

2 Exposure brackets
4 focus stacked images

Adjustments in LR and stacking in PS

Critique Template

Use of the template is optional, but it can help spark ideas.

  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
  • Emotional Impact and Mood:
  • Composition:
  • Balance and Visual Weight:
  • Depth and Dimension:
  • Color:
  • Lighting:
  • Processing:
  • Technical:


Welcome to NPN. Wonderful first photo. I think you did a wonderful job with this. It’s technically challenging to bring in that much focus and dynamic range and I think you did a great job. I think you have an eye catching composition and you timed the exposure of the background perfectly with the sun star just breaking the horizon. I hope to see more of your work.

Very cool capture. My instinct is to see what it would look like with out the building. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos. Welcome!

Thank you for the warm welcome Youssef. Looking forward to get to know this community here on NPN. Best regards from Germany

Hi Dave, I agree. I would have preferred to not have the buiding in the shot. But there was only so much I could do when shooting through a rather tiny hole in a tree. But there will be a next time. Maybe I’ll try to shift the angle a little bit to the right side. Thanks for the feedback

Hi Sandro and welcome to NPN. This is a striking image for sure. There’s just something about creating a frame like this that draws a viewer in. The building doesn’t bug me…it intrigued me a bit since I wasn’t sure what it was at first. Shifting to either include or exclude it completely would have been a better plan, but sometimes we just go with our first instincts.

In terms of whether this looks natural or not, I’m saying no. It looks as though it has had the shadows pushed a good deal. That doesn’t make it bad, but it does make me think of processing before I study or absorb the image in any way. Depending on your intent, that’s sometimes a barrier to people connecting with your subject. What I usually do when my photos start to look like this is to introduce more contrast. Sometimes even just a slight adjustment can make it feel more natural. Also, you could have a go at creating even more depth and dimensionality by emphasizing the direct light in the scene - particularly on the right side of the tree/bark. Pretty enchanting photo and again, welcome to NPN.

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I think the main thing any photographer is trying to do when creating an image is to evoke a mood. This photograph succeeds admirably in that regard. What is important in this image, from my perspective, is the darkness and you’ve handled it well such that it creates a moodiness that draws me in. I’m not sure why the cabin is “a problem”. For me it is an integral part of the picture and an intriguing element - it doesn’t scream at me, it is just there and, personally, I think the picture benefits from its presence. Now, as to whether the picture feels “natural”. I would say that it doesn’t but, for me, that’s besides the point. It’s an old saw but it is true - the goal is not to take pictures of how it looked but rather how it felt. Again, it is about evoking a mood. I would say this image has more of an illustrator’s style and for me it works. The star burst peeking out, the straight tree on the left side of the frame , the rim light on the right side of the tree, combined with the colour palette all work together to evoke a subdued sense of seclusion and the coming day.

Welcome Sandro! Lovely first post, with a great composition and dramatic light.

Blending extreme exposures can be tricky and I feel your pain. Given the light as presented, I would expect the wood framing to be darker. Maybe something like this?

Hi Kristen, I’m so impressed by the quality feedback I get here on this platform. Thank you so much. It is my target to get to a more natural look despite the use of sometimes heavy editing. To leave the foreground in its natural shade is a valid point.

Hi Kerry,
thank you for the feedback. It’s so much more substantial then for example on IG.
This is what I came here for. There is a clear scheme in all the feedback recognizable: I should focus on obtaining the natural look of the scene.

Hi John,
I like your edit on the picture. It does favours to the frame. The burning of the foreground restores alot of the natural look. Many thanks

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You are very welcome. This is a different place from most sites in that critique - both given and taken - is the focus. It takes some bravery to do either, but it’s the best way we can get better.

Site Tip - you can reply to multiple people in one post by highlighting any text in their reply and using the Quote function. Another way is to use the @ symbol and choose the person in the list that comes up. Use the tab key to automatically select and fill the name in your reply. This helps keeps threads from becoming too long with so many posts saying much the same thing to each individual. Hope that made sense!

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Welcom, @sandro . What a beautiful and skillfully edited picture to introduce yourself. I was immediately drawn to this image because of the DOF and framing which sharpens the mountains in the distance. I like the cabin as part of the story. I found the large area of foreground tree on the left overpowering, cropping in would minimize that heaviness and help balance the composition. As to being over processed. I agree with @Kerry_Gordon about creating a mood. The minute we take a picture we are putting our vision into it. The beauty of this site is the wonderful array of “visions.” Thank you for treating us to this beautiful scene.

Absoluetly :slight_smile: Thanks for the tip

Agree. Now that you’ve highlighted it I would crop in the lower left corner a little more. Thanks for your kind words.

Welcome to NPN Sandro! This is a beautiful first post. The processing looks great and the clouds in the sky create some nice drama. I also like the sunstar and ray as they make for some additional wonderful elements in the scene. The building does not bother me at all. I think @John_Williams small tweaks elevated an already lovely image another notch. Nicely done.

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