Reaching For the Sky

A nice stand of cypress trees provided the perfect foreground for this beautiful sky.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I exposed and framed this image as a calming statement. I found the grays and whites against the striking blue wanting me to be able to soar with those cypress trees, all the way to heaven.

Technical Details

D810, 17-35 @20mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 320

ACR, Tony Kuyper actions and On1 for a very slight Orton effect to pull the trees downward while allowing them to simultaneously thrust upward.

Oh very cool. I don’t know that I have any cypress shots that are framed this way. That blue sky would certainly have been a temptation if I’d had the presence of mind.

Could you clarify this for me? -

I’m not sure what you did that achieved that and I’m curious.

I do see a lot of color bleed in the blue channel so I’d back off the saturation so it stays out of the clouds and the smallest tree branches. The effect is like clouds of cyan clinging to the highest parts and is very noticeable. These scenes are SO HARD to frame up, but I think I’d like a version without the tree coming in from the top. I find it jarring, but that’s just me. Did you play with some lens distortion correction at all? that may help with the overall bendy look the trees have. A photo definitely worth spending some more time with.

I’ll play with it some more. I felt like it needed some darker elements to the limbs up high as they were tending to wash out against the blue sky. I should have thought to work the blue channel better, but it was late, I was tired and concentrating on the darker features. Thanks for the input.

Reworked Image:

Pretty much left the original exposure corrections as I had first done in ACR. Did not add any On1 tomfoolery but did get rid of the other tree Kris found bothersome - and I worked so hard to include it :wink: I also had to do some content aware fill and clone work on the far upper right to eliminate part of an errant magnolia limb/leaves.

Maybe less sky??

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Hi Chris, you’re right, the trees do create a very pleasing image against the blue sky, and your perspective makes them look like giants. I do like the second image better; that odd tree unbalanced the whole image, and a little less sky up top would be good too. I imagine these trees are leafless because its Winter, but what are those wispy things in the branches? I thought cypress trees liked “wet feet”, so was this taken in a swamp? Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Jim. Not so much a swamp as at the edge of a lake surrounded by Cypress Trees. These trees indeed had wet feet as I had to drop some loose debris on the ground to avoid sinking up to my ankles in mucky water. I’ve cropped this nine ways to Sunday and still can’t find the proportions I like better than this, as this crop keeps pushing the eye upward to the sky, past the last fluffy cloud.