Mid-day forest panorama

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

Recently, I have been quite interested in mid-day (harsh light) photography. When I walk in a forest during moments with harsh light, I often see scenes that look very nice. But I have found it very challenging to capture these scenes in photographs. Maybe because I have strong aversion towards specular highlights and image issues due to over and under-exposure. In this instance I am quite happy with what I got. Definitely having a top of the line camera as Nikon Z7II help in achieving this.

I think I could have improved the composition, regarding separation between some of the trees. But I am quite happy with the result, given that this was not intented to be sharable image. I only wanted to make some test shot so that I can return with a 6x17 film camera. So far, I haven’t returned, but I have grown to like this image as it is.

Creative direction

I think my interest in mid-day scenes came after watching Studio Ghibli animations. I always found them quite beautiful and often they represent mid of the day situations. I think these types of photos for me are inspired by them.

Specific Feedback

I would be happy about any feedback. Generally with these scenes with very big dynamic range, I find choosing the right contrast the hardest. There are so many options between more high key or more low key renditions. Generally I am not a fan of very dark shadows and when I am processing images like these I am worried of raising the shadows too much for the images to become either too washed out or too HDR-y.

Technical Details

Full frame camera, 50mm, f/8, ISO 64, exposure time 1/100 second. It was quite bright as it was a sunny day in July.


This is an image from a summer trip to Beli Iskar in the Rila mountains in Bulgaria. It was my first time there so I was just walking and finding compositions for the first time. This one was intended to be test shot and later I come back with a panoramic camera.

Hi Nedyalko,
This turned out pretty nice considering you were shooting with some harsh light. The greens are quite lovely and the backlit leaves show up very nicely. You also did a nice job of trying to space the trees. That big boulder in the middle of the frame does bother me so if you do go back to reshoot this I would suggest that you try to not include it in the image. This is just my opinion of course. This is a scene well worth some small tweaks. I would say you are off to a great start on your project.

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Welcome back, Nedyalko. I find your clarity regarding your creative direction refreshing. I think you are underrating this photo. The play of sunlight and shadow is not too harsh to my eye. I see what you mean about the separation of the trees, but what I see seems just right. Too much separation would have made it seem very cluttered. I have only two suggestions. The structure at the right edge and the brushy trees do not strengthen the picture. I would crop just to the right of the large tree. Then, the large boulder in the path seems less imposing. I rather like it. I found myself wondering how I would get around it. Finally, a vignette might help direct the interest to the lightest part of the photo.

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Thanks for the feedback @Ed_Lowe and @Barbara_Djordjevic . I can see the idea with cutting off the sides and getting a non-panoramic format. I think this would be nice, although my original idea was even more panoramic, because I think there is still nice distribution of trees on both sides. Regarding the boulder, I think it was what caught my eye in the first place.

The boulder makes this image for me. It’s so invasive and imposing. It’s what stands in the way of a harmonious composition. All of that makes it intriguing.