Norwegian Waterfall

Another image from a recent summer trip to Norway. This one is from Tvindefossen, an otherwise heavily photographed location, where I think I caught something besides the main composition photographed by many. Like my last post this sunset was overcast, so I went for a more intimate scene, with cooler, low-key tones.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all comments regarding the technicalities of this image are welcome.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I had an e-mail correspondence with Eric Bennet regarding this image, a member of this forum. A critique point was the out of focus tree in the left foreground as a disturbing element. When taking the shot, and editing I liked how it sort of created negative space, through the blur, pushing the viewer towards the waterfall. However, I’m curious what others make of this composition? Does it work, or should foreground element had been neglected?

Another point of interest, this one in the editing process, was the general tonal harmony in the image – I tried creating a more harmonic image by pushing some colours, namely the greens, towards colder tones. Is this look achieved or do you believe it could have been pushed even further?

Feel free to come with any other comments regarding the composition and/or editing.

Any pertinent technical details:

A single exposure with the Sony A7r + Canon 70-200 f/4 L (140mm, f/4, 1/30 sec.)

Thanks for reading!

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

Hello Malte:

This is a very moody image as it is presented with very dark tones in the greens with the stark contrast with the brighter waterfall.

To answer your specific question on the out of focus tree on the left… I do find it distracting. I always ask myself a question during composition… If I were to paint this scene, would I include an out of focus tree in the foreground. That answer for me on this image is clearly not. The other element that really grabs my eyes is the bright green out of focus foliage near the bottom of the frame in the middle left to right.

Your comment on pushing the colors to cooler tones… I don’ really see the cool tones as they are very dark. Too dark for my taste.

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Thank you Keith for the well considerated comment - and for this concrete way of imagining the final result.

Regarding the darks I am indesicive as I think brightening them removes some of the overall mood.

Thanks again! I’ll keep messing around with the image :slight_smile:

Yes, I have to agree with what Eric had said in regards to the tree. After the bright water of the fall, it was the first thing to catch my eye and consequently distracted me from the rest of the scene. I would definitely consider cropping the tree out and seeing how you like it afterwards.

The other part that distracts me a bit is the off-colored rock (?) aside the waterfall towards the top - what would it look like if you took that out?

Other than that, I do enjoy the color scheme that you have going here - it’s very pleasing to the eye. Love a nice moody photograph like this :slight_smile:

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Hello Malte.

I agree with Eric. The fuzzy tree distracts me. Something that made me wonder was your choice in settings. Both are mutually connected I think.

First the out of focus tree. From my experience of showing my work the first thing that the viewers eye will gravitate to will typically be the foreground, therefore it’s usually imperative to get the it in focus,even if it’s not the subject. I understand that you thought that by having it blurred that it would cause it to be a secondary component over the waterfall, but it’s uninteresting and a bit abstract making it more of a distraction. A soft blur works for a bokeh background but rarely works as a foreground as it blocks orcovers elements behind it. I feel that you could have had it in focus and it would have been a fine framing element.

You chose an aperture setting of f/4. This is giving you a shallow DOF. This makes focusing this image from front to back difficult. Something else that it does is make the shutter speed quicker. If the waterfall is already showing movement/blur then why not extend it to ~.5 sec to compete the soft blur? The best way, in this case, would be to stop down to something more like f/8-f/14 or so. This will allow an easier focus and a slower shutter. (You didn’t note the ISO)

Focussing can be a challenge, especially with such an open aperture. I recommend that everyone learn the principles of Hyperfocal Distance calcs. Once you understand the principles then you no longer need to do the math. It’s a simple process of learning how close to or how far away to get to your foreground and what aperture to choose to get an acceptable focus throughout the image.

I hope that this helps. :slight_smile:


Hey Cody, Thanks for the input!

Just so we’re on the same page is this the rock you are referring to? 46

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Thanks for the input Gary – well noted on the importance of the foreground, and the dynamic of foreground/background! If I recall correctly the ISO on this image was 80, the native ISO for the a7r, or perhaps 100. It was shot on a tripod, and I had also plenty of variations of ND and polarisers packed. However they were not used for this particular shot.

What I am getting at is the the intention of the settings – especially the shutter speed. The 1/30th of a second was chosen to preserve the water’s shape as it is pulled down; to emphasise the contrast between lights and darks, static and dynamic; and, finally, it limits the alienation that, in my opinion, a lot of long exposure images of water result in – i.e. the difference between the ‘dreamy’ water look and the viewer’s perception of real water.

Similarly, the shallow DOF was not a on the fly decision, but an attempt to do something different in my image making process – opposed to setting f/14-16 and focus 1/3 into the frame (oversimplified I know, but I think we can all relate to a feeling of ‘mechanical image making’ once a method is repeated too often).

I’m not trying to defend the choices of setting, rather explain the reasoning behind them – whether or not it translates in the image without explanation is the most important thing, and I can see the reasons behind your feedback as to why it is does not.

Again thank you for your feedback!

Hi Malte. I agree completely with you regarding shutter speed and water. My default shutter speed for creeks and waterfalls is 1/2 second. I want to show dynamic movement but I don’t want to wash it all out into a blur. This photo attached is .5 sec with some fast moving water.

And the only filter that I just can’t live without, especially shooting water is a circular polarizer. :slight_smile:

Keep up the excellent work man!! :slight_smile:

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you got it! just found it a bit too distracting to my eye

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