Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This past summer my family visited Portugal for a month. There are tons of memories and a real real highlight being able to provide that for our young son. During the planning process, I suggested (aka nearly demanded) that we visit the island of Madeira while we were there. Such a beautiful place I had seen so much about. While it wasn’t a photography trip at all, I did take much of my gear with me in hopes of being able to slip out for a few brief sessions. Early one morning I drove up to this famous forest. It was so cloudy/foggy that even though it was essentially empty, in reality you were alone. I explored a little beyond the main portion of the forrest and came across this tree with the remnants of another. Come to find out, a famous photographer has an almost identical image that I had never seen before (or if I had I didn’t recall it). I find that to be a bit satisfying as it shows me that eye is starting to mature a bit.

Specific Feedback

I don’t process in black and white frequently but this one just seemed right. I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything and everything related to the image!

Technical Details

ISO 100, f/11, 1/100sec 25mm


You certainly made the right choice to visit the island of Madeira. Your decision to wander a little farther beyond the main forest was fortunate. Your further good fortune was to experience this scene on a foggy and cloudy day. Your decision to process in B/W is wonderful. If there is anything that might possibly need attention, perhaps a bit more room on the right. Hopefully your son was able to appreciate the importance of your family trip.

While I have been to Portugal, I didn’t get to Madeira, alas. And mine wasn’t a photography trip (wine tasting/winery visiting), but it’s such a rich landscape that it isn’t hard to find great subjects. I love the tree and how you handled the composition; particularly framing the far strip of bushes or whatever under the limb. It balances so well with the fallen limb, as if the tree is now pulled down by the weight of the other side. It seems the shadows/blacks are a bit too lifted in the branches as whole. I don’t see a lot of tonal nuance there when I’d expect to given the light. Fantastic shot.

David, there is a lot going on in your image for me. My attention is first drawn to the tree leaning to the right while the curve of its branch is almost touching the ascending diagonal of the slope. Then there is the force of the broken limb balancing the dynamics perfectly. Finally the fog in the distance adds to the sense of loneliness. Thanks for sharing.

This is a wonderfull scene, I really like the composition and the overall subtle tonality. I think it would benefit from just a tiny adjustment of the black and white points, so that deep shadows on the fallen trunk and the hole in the base of the tree hit pure black and the bright bits on the fallen trunk get near to pure white. The latter could be just a local adjustment. But the subtle low contrast tonality in the crown gives the feeling that tree itself is in the edge of fog, which I think is worth maintaining.

David, this is a super composition - I really like it. The way you have captured the tree with the nearby root system is really interesting. It feels like all the same tree - even though it may not be.

If I were to suggest something minor - I might like a bit more depth in the leaves with some selective lightening. But that probably reflects my personal preferences in b&w. Overall - this is awesome.!

@Jim_Gavin Thanks for the feedback Jim. Madeira was my favorite part of the trip for sure, so much to enjoy there and I hope to go back sometime!

@_Kris We had a great time on a day trip/river cruise in the Douro Valley. We got to go to two small family run wineries and had a family prepare us a lunch at the last stop, it was so hot they let our son swim in their pool. Such a beautiful place! On to the image…That strip of bushes was something I spent some time considering. I wanted to make sure it wasnt merging and found that I could nestle the sweep of the branch in the little pocket of the bushes which I was pretty happy with. The blacks are lifted a bit but I think much of that effect is because of where the fall off with the “fog” (actually just clouds that pass through) is. I did lighten up some of the darker parts with some dodging because of the stark contrast with the lighter fog touched areas. I’d love to see what your envisioning though.

@Peter_Richter Thanks Peter! There was a lot to enjoy in a seemingly simple scene!

@Tomas_Frydrych I’m going to add an image below, let me know if this is kind of what you were thinking…

@Bill_Lathrop Thank you, sir! I’d be curious to see what you are thinking. I lightened some of the darkest parts just a touch to try to make it a little more homogenous which removed some of the depth for sure (nothing crazy just a bit of dodging). I was trying to avoid a strong contrast within the branches/foliage. Not sure if that is the “right” call or not but thats what I was thinking.

1 Like

David - I took another look and have no complaint. Either your modification did the trick, or I was looking at it under harsh afternoon light and that hindered my perceptions. I think it looks great. I really like how the tree is anchored by the root structure as it leans into the hill.

This feels like a portfolio image to me :slight_smile: