Petrified Forest

Hi all, this is my first post since the “old” NPN. Excited for this great critique forum to return!

This is an image of some wild sandstone formations in Petrified Forest National Park, AZ. Some buddies and I hiked to this location and set up camp in a dry wash in the middle of some otherworldly features. I grabbed this image right before the sun set. Appreciate any feedback or critique.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any feedback.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any feedback.

Any pertinent technical details:

Canon 6D, Canon 16-35, ISO 100, f16, 0.4", single exposure. Some substantial dodging and burning in the sky to even out polarization.

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

This is a very strong composition. For my tastes I’d be tempted to tone down the blue or cyan in the shadowed areas, but that’s a trade-off. They certainly help emphasize the reds and yellows in the sunlit portion

Truly unique scene and composition. I like everything about it. Though it seems like a bit of excessive polarization in the middle of the sky.

This is quite cool. I do love the chaos but there is also an order and pattern to it. Well captured.

One of the others pointed out the strong blues in the middle of the image and I have to agree on that. Also on the blue cast in the foreground. I have found when adding tone through curves that it can really accentuate the blues. I would suggest a selective colour adjustment to see if that helps.

Really cool image though and nicely composed

I like this image, there is so much interesting stuff you have captured in a single frame here. I’m not sure if your intention was to completely remove the uneven sky polarization, it’s definitely still noticeable. The cut off stone at the center right edge does pull my attention to it some, it might benefit from darkening a bit.

It must have been hard to assemble all these elements into a working composition, I think you totally succeeded in that.

That’s pretty cool, Joel. I like the warm to cool transition, and the fact that you minimized the bluebird skies. The variety of wild landforms are by far the most appealing aspect. Interesting that this is a part of Petrified Forest I’ve never seen, although I’ve only been there twice.

I really like this image. Very compelling. As mentioned, the cool tones and the warm tones above work very well together. The one issue I have is the rock on the right that’s partly out of frame. The foreground rock leads your eye to the second rock, then the third rock that’s out of frame, takes your eye out of frame. If you put your finger over that rock, you can see how much better the image is. Your eye really flows through the image. If you just darken it to match the darker bluish soil, it would help the image tremendously. I also agree with a bit too much polarization in the sky. That being said, it’s a wonderful image Joel. Very different.

Nice shot with all of the lines and textures and the pop of warm light. In cases like this I might almost be tempted to blend in an un polarized sky and just dry to darken it a bit in post. Maybe that or zoom in to 35-40mm or whatnot, take a picture of the sky and blend that in as I always have way too much trouble evening out a polarized sky…just can never seem to get it perfect.

Ah the cpl streaking. Can try to use things that have upoint technology to help with the evening out of that stuff. Otherwise in the field I often cpl-blend so you can still get the effect on the land. Might be a touch over sat for my taste, but not by much. Great job with the comp.


I really like the composition, @Joel_A_Hazelton. Less blue and it is a very powerful image.

Thanks, everyone, for all the valuable feedback!

As for colors - one of the aspect of the scene that appealed to me most was the blue cast on the shadowed areas; however, I agree I could tone that down and still achieve the desired affect without it being so intense.

I did some additional PP work on polarization, but didn’t want to push it too far. I use TK’s luminosity painting to even it out, and too much of a change results in some undesired affects in such a clear sky. I’m open to any other options for reducing sky polarization, keeping in mind that I unfortunately did not take any un-polarized shots to blend in a different sky.

@Thorsten_Scheuermann and @Wayne_Suggs Interesting thoughts on the midground cut-off stone. I hadn’t noticed that before. I’ll certainly take your advice and darken it some, to see if it benefits the flow of the composition.

Thanks again for the feedback!

My first reaction was that I like the cool to warm tones. But after reading some of the comments agree the cool might be a little overhanded. A shame about the sky. I’ve had to mess with a polarized sky too many times in my landscapes, that I stopped using one unless there was water or leaves.