Playing for time

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


This venerable tree stopped me in my tracks while tooling around some back roads. Clearly the fields are still worked and so it has an even lonelier appearance than it might have if they were overgrown. Unfortunately it’s on a corner and has buildings in the distance on both sides and if I backed up across the road more I’d be down a ditch and into the woods. So I tried my best to get that great branch to be more obvious, but somewhat at the expense of the trunk where it has been torn away by a tornado or a severe thunderstorm (I watched as a microburst took out a maple in my backyard and left the tree exactly like this).

If I can find it again (should have taken a cell phone pic, but forgot!), I’d love to try a spring shot with new leaves on those branches instead of old ones. It’s an oak and has a great presence in its bare landscape.

Specific Feedback

Attempting to show character and a sense of animation. Does it work at all?

Technical Details

Handheld while receiving strange looks from passers by.


Since I shot this with the EVF in monochrome mode and in 2:3 crop mode, I decided to convert it and crop it more or less how I saw it in the viewfinder. I still have the 4:3 aspect if I wanted that, too. Played around with the color sliders in the B&W panel to brighten the sky to a more uniform look (there were clouds on blue) and also to manipulate shades of orange and yellow. Lowered the exposure a little and applied the usual S-curve for contrast. Some texture, clarity & sharpening. Removed a bit of a distracting building.

This image is absolutely wonderful. The stark back and white and minimalistic composition is really powerful and that tree has so much character. It almost looks like its a scout that ventured into the field and is now waving back to his friends in the forest as if to tell them that it’s safe to come out. I don’t know, that’s one narrative that popped into my head.

I hope you do find it again because I for one would definitely love to see this in another season. Not that it would necessarily be better, but I’d be curious to see it.

Thanks @Tom_Nevesely - I really like your interpretation of the scene and the implied movement/animation in the tree. Exactly what I was hoping for. And yeah, I hope I can find it, too. I think it’s on one of the main country roads like L or N so it might not be too hard to find. Maybe. :laughing:


What a great story - and not what you’ve disclosed about it necessarily because the image speaks for itself. I mean the tree’s character and the stories it could tell about it’s past. I don’t think I have Tom’s imagination, nor do I see much animation, but to me it’s the story of what once was; the potential of such a glorious tree - cut short by that storm (or whatever happened…) AND secondary rise to greatness as life of this tree just keeps on keeping on.

Clear to understand why you had to stop for this.

Oh, and processing is excellent all the way around. My only nit and initial impression was being unsure about the empty sky and space on the UL quadrant. The good news is, that the story that is being told far and away trumps the negative space.


Thanks @Lon_Overacker - yeah, I got that vibe from it, too; that if it could only speak. In a way it does, but we have to fill in with our imaginations. Cropping and framing were as tough with this as was just trying to compose on the side of the road. I always hesitate to go into fields when they’re not clearly abandoned or unused and so the limitations. With that sometimes a little creativity in processing is what can help tell the story rather than field craft.