Melancholy Sky

Here is another image from my recent trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Other than my first night on the trip I didn’t have a lot of luck with colorful sunrises and sunsets. On this night I was actually eating dinner at a restaurant in Townsend when I noticed some light getting through the clouds so I decided to head into Cades Cove to see if I could get lucky with some light and color getting through. This is the best that I got, but I like how even in the midst of what is an otherwise gloomy scene there is light getting through.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

I’m interested in your thoughts regarding the tonality of this image. Specifically should I brighten the greens in the landsape a bit more? Is it too dark overall? I do have a tendency to process images too dark.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

All comments and critiques are welcome. Does the composition work for you? I realize this kind of scene may not have broad appeal, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

53 mm
f/13 @ 1/25 sec.
ISO 80


Single image capture
RAW Processing in Lightroom to adjust for exposure, highlights and shadows
Straightened horizon (I was using a hotshoe level but somehow still didn’t get it quite right)
Levels adjustments for global contrast
TK’s luminosity masks to adjust midtone contrast as well as targeted adjustments for sky and landscape.
TK’s Dehaze action

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You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

This gets into the realm of subjective personal taste, but to me this feels a little too dark. Then again I often feel like I process my own images too bright relative to many other landscape photographers, so you may not want to listen too closely to me :grinning:

I would brighten this image a little, but you need to walk a fine line here, or you’ll lose some of the mood this image already has. I’m not sure I would brighten the greens as much as I would increase luminosity of the yellow grass in the meadow (just my $0.02 worth). But regarding the greens, I feel like they are too saturated in the tree and background forest. In the real world, colors that are in shadow are usually lower saturation, and our eyes are used to seeing them this way. To me over-saturated greens and blues in shadow areas are a problem, one way to to avoid this is to apply saturation or vibrance locally rather than globally, and keep it away from shadow areas. TK saturation masks, combined with luminosity mask selections are a great way to approach this.

I think I have shot that same tree several times Brian :grinning:. While the sky may not be as exciting as you wanted I feel the color of the grass & tree more than offset the sky. This is a beautiful pastoral scene, very serene and yet uplifting. I find myself wishing for a wee bit more room on the right but that’s not a major issue. Very pretty.

I share the same tendency toward dark processing. It irritates the crap out of me sometimes. I know I do it, I try to avoid it, and yet I still find myself guilty of it. I do think you might want to brighten the grass a bit, but not too much. Overall, the scene is a bit somber so you don’t want the image to be so bright it loses the somber feel, but I feel a little brightening might help. If you want some extra “punch” you might burn the sky just a bit as well, but I’m not sure the image really needs that.

I too tend to process some of my images to dark so I know where you are coming from. This is one of those subtle scenes that I find very relaxing and soothing as it makes you slow down and enjoy the moment. The sky looks good to me, but the tree and grasses look a little dark to my eye so I would try to brighten them a little. This image is well worth tweaking a little bit.

Contemplative and serene image, Brian. I agree with @Ed_Lowe that the sky looks good as-is but lightening the luminosity of the grasses and prominent tree a bit.

First, I like the scene a lot. I can easily understand why you left your dinner. I like the sky in your image as well and the image is not too dark for my taste. But I agree with @Ed_McGuirk about the saturation of the greens. For me, it looks unnatural and it takes away a bit of the mood in the image.