This is an image that I captured on my recent trip to Western North Carolina. This image was taken along a stream in the Cataloochee area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was drawn to the patterns of the ripples in the water over the rocks and I liked how it created a mosaic like pattern. The sky was mostly clear, but this particular spot was in shade. There are some interesting prism like colors in the ripples.

Specific Feedback Requested

Overall, this image is a bit of an experiment from me. I would like honest feedback on all aspects of the image. Most importantly does the composition work and what do you think about the shutter speed?. All comments and critiques are welcome. Please feel free to be brutally honest because as I mentioned this is an experiment and I expect that I have a lot to learn about this kind of photography.

Technical Details

Capture Info:

105 mm
f/11 @ 1/400 sec
ISO 800 (to get a faster shutter speed in an effort to freeze the ripples)

Processing Info:

Basic RAW processing for global contrast, capture sharpening and noise reduction. In photo shop I used luminosity masks to target shadows and midtones for targeted contrast adjustments.


One of the great pleasures of fly fishing is that you witness scenes like this all the time when you’re wading. While changing your fly you look down and just marvel at our world. So, I’m very familiar with these type of scenes.

This one is different than the one posted earlier by @Bonnie_Lampley in that it’s not an abstract. Everything is readily recognizable for what it is. The main rocks are centered and the outer edges are darker, which I think pushes you into the center. But this is about the surface reflections, and they are everywhere, forming almost a mesh over the entire scene. I don’t know how I feel about the piece of wood. I might darken it’s bright area so that the eye is not drawn to it.

This works on many levels - as the mosaic you used for a title - the shutter speed works to depict that quality very well. If you used a longer one, the ripples would blur and you’d lose it. The composition looks good for the most part, but the very prominent dark parts between rocks are a bit of an eye magnet for me. I wish they were smaller or more numerous. If there were more of them, they might seem more of a piece with the whole. The stick in the middle seems too bright which would work if it was more recognizable for what it it, but it took me a bit to figure it out and that was taking my attention away from the photo as a whole so maybe I’d have found a composition to exclude it or done something in post to make it less obvious.

As an experiment, I think you have a good start. It’s nice to see this river bed in all its clarity and bright sunlight. The streams and rivers here are largely tannic and so I like this as a refreshing change. I say keep going and playing in the water as much as you can.

Brian, I think you are on the right track with your water abstracts. I agree with Igor and Kristen on the darker parts of the image being a distraction. The star of the image for me is the shimmering light and you captured that well with the shutter speed selected.

This is lovely - it does have that mosaic feel. Your shutter speed looks perfect. As Igor said, too slow and the ripples blur out (which does make for interesting textures sometimes). I often raise the ISO (into the 2000+ range if I have to) to get a fast enough shutter speed for these kinds of images. To my mind, there is always a lot of inherent texture in these and the ripple reflections themselves aren’t razor sharp, so a high ISO doesn’t worry me.

What I find interesting in this scene is the more orange-y elongated feature near the center. The color of that is more intense, and there’s even more blue. It might have been interesting to get closer to that. I do agree on the dark shadow blobs - they interrupt the flow. Nonetheless, this is well seen.

I think this is lovely!! The pattern of the bright ripples is fascinating against the rocks. The shadows don’t really bother me, but I wonder if they could have been raised a bit in the raw processor. I would clone out the brightest part of the stick – should be easy as it’s mostly surrounded by dark tones.

I really love this, Brian! Really good job on freezing the ripples to create that pattern. And I just love all the different shades of brown in this image. Well seen and captured!

I love this Brian. While I think it might be interesting to see what a slower shutter speed would have produced, I love what you came up with here. I really like the blue splotches when zoomed in and I’m drawn to the brownish thing (wood) in the middle of the image. I like this more when I blow it way up. Not sure what that’s telling m but the ripples are much more pleasing so maybe zoom in and get a tighter image next time??? Again, not sure what it’s telling me. I also find the blacks to be a little bit blocked up but not much. All in all, I love this and think is a superb first attempt.