Pine Boughs over the Lake

One of the joys of nature photography is stumbling onto a scene we weren’t expecting; one that stops us in our tracks so to speak. I’m on a cliff here, looking down at the lake through the white pines at sunrise. The mist was rising in a slow motion spiral as it glided over the subtle ripples; the boughs conveniently still in the air filled with birdsong. I love experiences like this, where the profound aesthetics blow words out of your mind, and for a few moments you can just be with the place, then get out the camera and try your best to record the experience in an artistic way.

Specific Feedback Requested

The experience was fantastic but I fear the image is confusing. At first glance it may look like you’re looking up and the mist is clouds. Is the image confusing in that way to you? I’d be interested in a poll of your responses. Thanks!!

Technical Details

Pretty straight forward processing with a bit of shadow & highlight recovery and midtone contrast adjustment using contrast masking techniques. Fuji GFX 100, 32 - 64mm lens at 32mm.

Nice one, Kevin. And with my favorite camera! (I have one too). I love the story and the experience must have been awesome. I think the only thing that takes away is the the subtle ripples are too uniform. When I first looked at it I thought there must have been something wrong with the camera or processing. I wonder if a soft blur effect, especially along the blue center might send it just enough into the background so that it’s there but looks a bit more natural.

Anyway, I really like the pic and your story.

1 Like

Thanks! Good points to consider.

Hi Kevin,

This is a mind bender for sure. And directly to your question:

Yup, and I’m still trying to figure this one out. Is the entire image the reflection on the water? Or are you shooting through the trees, looking down and the water is below?

And not that I’m suggesting you do this, but if this was rotated 90deg CW, orienting the tall trees in a vertical view, that would be even more confusing - at least more convincing one was looking UP rather than down.

And the mist? those aren’t clouds? Wow, if this doesn’t define the concept of “you had to be there to appreciate” or even understand this!

Don’t get me wrong, this is very, very cool. And no doubt - you expressed your personal experience very well.

Only question I have though - what are the horizontal lines in the blue? It almost looks like a reflection in a window? Looks man-made, or they are ripples in the water?

And lastly, they only suggestion I have would be for a crop off the right to remove the darkest of the pine bows. Not sure if that would improve or change any perspective though.

Thank you for posting this mysterious and engaging image!


Hey Lon, it’s like you read my mind, and said exactly what I wanted to say! Kevin, I agree that this is a very interesting image. Took me a bit to figure out that nothing is a reflection here, knowing that we are not looking up at the sky.

I agree about cropping off those darkest boughs on the right , not just because they’re dark and less in-focus, but because most of the interest here is clustered on the left side with the placement of the mist/clouds, and it feels like that’s just extra space over on the right. Not much shape/form over there either, just a block of foliage.

Lon is also right that rotating the image 90 degrees either direction could make us wonder even more. The thing is, I’m not sure I would have ever noticed this wasn’t a shot pointing up if you hadn’t said anything. It doesn’t really come across, because the mist on the water looks so much like clouds in the sky. The only clue we really have is the lines/ripples on the water, which I agree look a bit strange just because they’re so uniform. They seem like an artifact of some kind, like what you get when you shoot through a screen, or when a sensor has a readout issue.

Anyway, I think this image would be best paired with a caption that you’re not looking up, wherever you present it, lest it appear to be a simple “up shot”. If the lines are indeed ripples, then maybe they’d be best left in as the sole clue that everything is not as it seems…

1 Like

I agree that those ripples don’t look natural. They’re as uniform as corduroy material. Yet I believe they are ripples because there are parts of the image where they’re absent. I do agree that there aren’t enough clues to make it clear we’re looking at a lake surface. They’re little to be done in post processing now but you could have shot a wider view to make things clearer. Or some sunlight reflected off the water and ripples. I guess it’s true what they say. It’s one thing to have the experience but another to convey it as you felt it. Photographing what we see doesn’t mean it emotional experience is often different than a visual experience.

At first I thought there was something wrong with my monitor but then I realized they are ripples in the water, lol.
I agree with what Alex mentioned, I think that edit will work nicely!

Thanks Matt! Appreciate the feedback.

1 Like

Thanks Igor! Such a cool experience, it just doesn’t get conveyed here. I tried including the far horizon but it was very busy & way blown out with hot highlights. Maybe I’ll go back & try again armed with your feedback. Thank you.

1 Like

Thanks Alex. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case the picture needs more words! :smile: I really appreciate the feedback. I have a vertical version that may work better and accomplishes the crop you suggest.