Of Bats and Cats + new version

New Version:


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

I like the drama of all those sharp edges and the contrast in this image. I don’t really know what else can be done with this image.

Creative direction

I guess I don’t really want this image to be about rocks. I’ve given this a bit more thought and I think it looks gothic. I suppose all caves look gothic. That’s the look I’m after.

Specific Feedback

I’m interested in your aesthetic, conceptual, and emotional response to this. I suppose there is always ways to improve this technically. I initially processed this in a dark room and it looked too dark when viewed in a medium ambient light. Does this look like it needs further exposure? I feel that the dark parts should remain fairly dark.

Technical Details

GFX 50R, 45-100mm, f/11, focus stacked


This was a fascinating sea cave I found in the Cook Inlet near the town of Hope. That flat section is really arresting. I made several exposure from different angles and none seemed right. Then as I was leaving I saw the angle that seemed right and I made this shot. The other were directly facing the flat area, which just didn’t work.


The exposure looks terrific to me, Igor. The dark areas have plenty of light yet retain the mood you want and I do think this evokes a gothic look. The sharp angles help a lot with that feeling. The angled rocks in the upper left corner are what really make this for me. There is tremendous tension in the upper portion of the image. The flat surface feels like an appendage that is being tightly gripped by all of the sharp tentacles above it. It feels alive in an alien kind of way. This doesn’t feel like a picture about rocks if you spend some time looking at it and letting your imagination go a little wonky. I’d like to see what’s down below but it probably gets messy down there which is why you didn’t include it but if not, I’d like to see what’s there. I think contrast is just about right and the colors are soft and muted allowing the textures to grab the attention of the viewer. I can’t help you with a way to improve on this except to possibly darken the LLC just slightly. Well done. Looking forward to more from Alaska. You always come back with terrific images.

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Wow, this is beautiful and ominous. The exposure is fine for me. It would ruin the ominous mood to be any brighter. I wouldn’t change anything.

I’ll echo Bonnie: I wouldn’t change anything. This is very good.

I looked at the photo for a while before I read your explanation. I didn’t know what I was looking at. Initially I thought it was wood. My puzzlement didn’t detract from the appeal of the photo. It probably made me look more carefully.

I can see this being mistaken for wood. It’s actually slate. The location is the Turnagain Arm near Anchorage. There is a lot of metamorphic rock all along the arm. But in this place the layers are very uniform and sometimes really thin. They also come in different colors, mostly black.

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Beautifully exposed and composed - and yes, it does look like wood - I was searching hard for that screech owl :slight_smile:

My Alaska images form 3 general subjects.

  1. I drove the Dempster highway in Yukon, Canada in pursuit of grayling. Big mistake. I’m no longer fit for that sort of thing and there is no point in pretending. After slipping and stumbling over wet rocks for a couple of days I settled on photography. I did catch 5-10 each day. The images from here were grand landscapes as I never quite figured out how I felt about this place. It’s all tundra up there. Got one eye-candy image.

  2. I worked the rocks on both sides of the Turnagain Arm. The two sides had suprisingly different type of slate and the interpretations are dissimilar. Had a hard time deciding whether these extracts are meaningful or just dazzling in a way.

  3. I got excited by the carpet mosses within the dark woods. This turned out to be the most challenging subject due to it’s subtlety. You have to be in a different frame of mind to appreciate the sense of the place. I purposely turned to muted colors in the end.



Wow! This is outstanding. Yeah, “it’s not about rocks”… and I agree! Yes, I see that this is rock/slate and not wood, but that’s not what I’m seeing, per se. Gothic, yes! I see… in fact from Meriam-Webster: " …characterized by the converging of weights and strains at isolated points upon slender vertical piers and counterbalancing buttresses and by pointed arches and vaulting." I’ll take it even further with a reference to Lord of the Rings and the fortress of Middle Earth… Very strong graphics with this one.

And speaking of caves, an early response is Stalactite vs Stalagmite… which got me thinking, are these formations “hanging down”… or they orientated upward? I had to see what this looked like flipped vertically. Below is my interpretation. I flipped vertically… then I set the black point to further deepen the darkest shadows. Cloned out the small greenery in the original LRC, added a vignette, some dodge/burning and selective color/saturation and came up with this view.

This may not agree with your vision, but I think this alternate has something to say.

To be clear, your original post is excellent as presented. I just saw something different.


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Splendid Igor. The lateral light creates beautiful and misterious shades that arouse emotion. Mistery and emotion are the two strongest feelings that I receive from the image. From the technical point of view I think that is perfect.

Thanks, Lon. I like your version. What I like most about it is that you darkened the darkest blacks. I’ve been debating with myself whether to do it and it was good to see that you saw it that way as well. The reorientation is interesting because now it suggests a mountain, or the face of one. I’m to vested in what I saw to make this jump but it makes perfect sense to me. I mean I really can’t make the argument than one orientation is better than another.


Really looking forward to seeing a few more. Glad you were able to catch some fish without getting hurt in the process. That’s good eating. I have never been to Alaska but will be heading there in the next couple of years with family. Probably a combo cruise and back country trip.

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@Giuseppe_Guadagno, @Lon_Overacker, @Bonnie_Lampley, @Don_Peters, @Karl_Zuzarte, @David_Haynes

Thank you for your comments. I made a change that was suggested. I moved the black point a bit of to make the dark parts darker. The new version is posted next to the original. The two versions don’t look that different on NPN but the different was very noticeable in Photoshop.

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Wow, this is phenomenal, Igor! I like your original version best, but both work. I also like Lon’s idea of orientation. I didn’t think it was wood, but I also wasn’t sure it was rock at first either. It took a little “looking” to figure out it was slate. But regardless of what it is, it’s an incredible shot. The angle you decided on works very nicely, and the colors of the main slab are just beautiful. I love the geometric look of all the surrounding rock features as the both complement the main slab AND contradict it at the same time, but it works perfectly! Superb shot!

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Thanks Bill. I started printing my Alaska images today and this has been the best so far. It makes for an arresting print.

Igor, this is a wonderful, really, fascinating abstract image! Everything about the composition works for me. Its ambiguity leaves me to wonder what it is. Tree? Rock? Both? Glad to know the details you provided! Finally, moving that black point was perfect for bringing out the quiet drama in the image.

Not a darn thing I’d change here, Igor. The colors, the texture, the composition…it’s all perfect. What a wonderful abstract image.

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This is a very striking and captivating image! I think you achieved your goal in a big way. In addition to having wonderful shapes and textures, the light is fantastic. The editing choices really show this moment off perfectly. So nothing to suggest or complain about here. Print it big!

Congratulations on the EP Igor! You have such an eye for these scenes that are grand despite being small.

Thank you John. I liked your winner as well.

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Amazing shot! I really like your revised version - bringing out the blacks really made it more dramatic and 3-dimensional. That bit of warm sheen on the flat area certainly makes the image. I can see why you’d have been disappointed in the face-on versions by comparison. I totally love @Lon_Overacker’s version too. There I can imagine a fantasy quest with the hero fighting off an army a la John Carter of Mars (and yes, I did indeed read every book from that series!). I can certainly see this one - in either direction - on display in large format.