Reclamation (with suggested edits)

Edited Revision

Original Post

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This is an image from 2 years ago that I shot in the Fall of 2020 during the pandemic. Like everyone, I needed to get out of the house and get back with Nature for a few days so I took a relatively quick trip to Utah. I had shot this same scene on at least a dozen trips without getting the colors and the light that I was fortunate to get on this trip. My previous attempts were tryin to capture this just as the sun was coming up creating sharp contrast between highlights and shadows in the crevasses. When the sun comes up it warms the hills and they turn more brown that cement color so I decided to shoot this in blue hour way before the sun came up and I finally got the colors that was hoping for. The warm tones of the falling rocks from above and the cooler tones of the weathered, craggy sand stand out to me. I named this image Reclamation because it feels like the earth is reclaiming what was built up millions of years ago as these rocks tumble from the top to the bottom. There is one standout rock in the bottom left of the image. This is what catches the eye.
I know this image has been photographed before as I believe I have seen it here on NPN maybe 10 years ago which is why I’ve sat on this for 2 years. However, I have not seen other images of this so maybe it’s not that well known. At any rate, It is the coloration of the butte that makes me love this image as it stands out compared to the hundreds of previous images that I’ve taken of this.

Specific Feedback

As always, you guys always see things that I miss. So I guess what I’m looking for is a general overall feel you have for the image, what can make it better in your eyes, and if this works or is it just a hill with rocks on it.

Technical Details

Z7ii, 70-200mm lens @ 200mm, ISO 80, SS 1.6 seconds, f/8, tripod. Cropped significantly.

1 Like

Well this isn’t familiar to me and it is outstanding. Definitely a testament to knowing your location and envisioning what you want from it. The light is lickable. The color separation and contrast you wanted came through brilliantly and I like how rich it is despite being pastel in nature. You really have to see this one large and a print would be stunning. I hope you made one. The sweep of that curve coming from the left light rocks, down with pebbles through blue, running out and then curving below to underpin the whole composition is brilliant. The angles of repose for the various rocks and scree is fascinating. Gravity’s natural sorting mechanism.

I’m blown away so making a small suggestion seems churlish, but I will anyway - the ULC has a less harmonious debris field and a bright rock that disrupts the pattern there. Not sure if anything but a tiny crop to eliminate the bright rock would be enough or if some judicious cloning to get rid of it that way is better. Not sure if you want to clone the corner entirely, but I bet you could for a more uniform look on the top row of formations. Entirely your call as always and it really is not necessary since this is so gorgeous and striking as is. Wow. One of your finest.

Hi David, this is a very interesting and beautiful image and I like it quite a lot especially now that I’ve taken some time to take in and study all of the details.
What I like most about this is that this image is so full of “contrasts” and I’m not just talking about light versus dark - though there is that here as seen in the wonderful shading that makes all of the ridges and shapes pop out so nicely. Secondly, you have the warm and cool colour contrast going on – which I always love, and lastly, you have a contrast in textures where (for the most part) the cool areas of the image are smooth and the warm areas with the stones and boulders are rougher.

This is a gorgeous desert landscape for sure, David. Even if I had seen this image before this is still your interpretation so I am glad you let this beauty see the light of day. I am just loving the color palette with the warm and cool tones along with the graceful sweep of erosion as it flows from the top and heads out the LRC. I hope you print this and hang it on the wall.

David, this is simply stunning. Super sharp, wonderful comp, perfect light. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a wall hanger for sure. Awesome.

My suggestion is rather minor, and potentially personal preference because this is a killer image. I would prefer a slightly warmer band at the top. Maybe even more so than what I’m showing as an example. Warmer, but then desaturate it a little bit because it can become overpowering in places. As it is now, it has a bit of a green tint to it which gives me a bit of a sickly vibe and this scene is so vibrant and powerful. Again…killer shot!

I echo what others have said already. I like the “standout rock” as well, as it adds an interesting element. Well done.

You’ve gone and posted another beauty, David! Congrats on getting a shot you wanted after all your tries.

Beautiful image, David. I love the cool tones contrasting with the warmer ones, and the various patterns and textures throughout the image. That ridge at the bottom right that has a warmer top feels a touch bright, and I think burning that down a little bit might keep my eye from wandering down to it. I have a feeling this would be an amazing print large and on metal.

Thank you for your suggestions on this one @Kris_Smith , @Tom_Nevesely , @Ed_Lowe , @David_Bostock , @David_Wallace , @DeanRoyer , @Mark_Muller , @Bret_Edge. As is always the case, you have helped me to improve this image.

Kris…I love that you think the light is lickable. I gotta remember that one. You made my day! I took your suggestion to heart and cloned in a new ULC. I’m also happy to hear that you’ve never seen this scene before. Thanks as always for your kind words.

Tom…Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you like this one. There is certainly lots of contrast in color, texture and shapes. Thanks again, Tom.

Ed…It’s the warm and cool tones that I was after all these year shooting this image. I’m glad I brought this one out from under wraps. Thanks Ed!

David B…Very kind, David. Thanks as always for your comments.

David W…I ever so slightly warmed the top of the image as you suggested. I’m not sure I went far enough but I do like your rework of the image. I’ll keep trying. Thanks for taking the time to do a rework on this. I appreciate it!

Dean…Thanks very much for having a look at this and for your comment. Glad you like it.

Mark…Thanks very much. It only took about 8 years to get the light I was looking for and to figure out that this needed to be shot before sunrise. Glad this one works for you.

Bret…You nailed it Bret. I took your comment to heart and fixed that ridge top. Thanks for the eagle eyes. I may tinker a little bit more with this one and then try and print. Thanks for your suggestion, Bret!

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@David_Haynes , Man, 8 years! I haven’t even had my camera that long. The revision looks real nice. Will be nice to print!

And I didn’t think it could get better. I stand corrected. Bravo! :tada: :clinking_glasses:

Sad, isn’t it? LOL. Thanks for your comment, Mark.

Better because of your suggestion! Thanks Kris.

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A bit late here, but had to comment - An outstanding nature image! Love this.

I’m not well traveled, so I’m not familiar with this either, although I think we’re seen some version of this place in the past.

First look I would have said this was gorgeous as presented. Kris’s keen eye really made a difference in your edited version. The highlighted yellow ridge was noted; for me, I think something between the original and the edit. I liked the highlighted ridge, but maybe was too yellow/bright? The edited version seems the light and color was taken off a bit too much? We’re talking tweaking very minor suggestions… I think something in between. But that’s just me.

THIS should be printed large.


Ah, so that’s what I did wrong. When I was there I didn’t know what to do with that upper part. How far to go downward in the composition. In the end this requires a long lens, which I didn’t have. For me the heart of the matter is the lower left quadrant. Although I do like the repetition of the upper ‘columns’. The browns in the upper area just seem to distract from the steel blues below. The following is certainly not what you were after but it’s the direction I would take this … maybe. Well, it’s another option.

Lon, I don’t think this is a well know spot but I have seen one image of something similar to this maybe 10 years ago. I don’t remember who shot it.
Like you, I didn’t see how this could be made better but every time I post an image for comments and suggestions, it never fails…This group of photographers on NPN see things I totally miss. Every time. Without fail. It’s remarkable. I think @Kris_Smith suggestion regarding the ULC was spot on. I also think that the bright ridge mentioned by @Bret_Edge had a lot of merit but I also think I took it too far.
As always Lon, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this one and I’m glad you liked this one.

This is apropos in that I have a take that is very similar to your crop. I also have a vertical of nearly the same thing. I chose to include the upper layer because I think I wanted the viewer to see where these orange rocks came from, right or wrong although I do love my cropped in versions eliminating the upper portion of the composition. It really is about that one large boulder against the steely blue crags.
You probably noticed that after the sun comes up everything turns very contrasty and the blue/gray tones disappear all together. Long lens for sure. As I mentioned, this was shot at 200mm and cropped significantly because it’s as close as I could get.

Hi David
This is very fine, a wonderful picture.
I think your decision with the ULC was the right one but I preferred the original version concerning the “bright ridge”.