Red Dawn

Critique Style Requested: Initial Reaction

Please share your immediate response to the image before reading the photographer’s intent (obscured text below) or other comments. The photographer seeks a genuinely unbiased first impression.

Questions to guide your feedback

Does it grab your interest? Does the composition and detail create interest or is it mundane?

Other Information

Please leave your feedback before viewing the blurred information below, once you have replied, click to reveal the text and see if your assessment aligns with the photographer. Remember, this if for their benefit to learn what your unbiased reaction is.

Image Description

Captured at sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park from a vantage point near 14,000 feet.

Technical Details

Nikon D800 with Nikkor 17-35 mm f/2.8 @ 35mm
AP @ ISO 250 -1 2/3EV
1/40 sec @ f/90 Tripod
at sunrise

Specific Feedback


or any of the above would be helpful

Ed, I absolutely love the sky and clouds. That is the first thing that attracted me to the image. There is a feeling of wonder opening up at daybreak. It gets me very curious to explore the image in more detail.

Blame it on my poor vision, but I have a hard time concentrating on the mountain details. I feel that the image could become better by softening the reds on the mountains. The FG is a bit soft in contrast with the strong reds and details on the illuminated portion of the mountains. I think if the light that appears on the clouds on the right side of the frame could be more reflected down below, the image would be much stronger and softer. Of course, that is only my perception and vision for the image. You might have had a completely different take and approach.

The bright cliff-faces catch the eye, but personally I’m intrigued by the canyon. Zooming in to look at the canyon more closely, I’m seeing what look like masking artifacts throughout the image?

Thank you Egidio for your insights. I appreciate your perspective.

1 Like

Thanks Dan.

A nice scene but the reds don’t look realistic and there are lighter mask artifacts everywhere. Masking is rarely perfect and it pays to look at the mask as a color overlay and paint in corrections or blur them.

I think you could go back to the raw file and pull out something very nice.

Hi Ray, this image, especially the reds, immediately impacted me. The very bright red (sun hitting the cliffs on the right) is intense and really pulls my eye. In all, I love the red rock and the composition, but am uncomfortable with the intense color. If it was naturally this red you might tone it down, especially on the right — it would give those very interesting clouds a chance to “shine.”

PS I agree with Diane’s take on it the details.

Thank you for your insights.

First off, this is a beautiful image and the comp is outstanding! Nice work. My initial reaction is WOW, but as I study the image, I personally would have made a few changes. Yes, the reds are a bit strong so I would lower them a bit. I am also struggling with the lower third of the image in terms of detail and contrast. The lower left seems to fade into oblivion. Finally, There is a small, fingerlike dark cloud on the far right side, about a quarter of the way down that to me was a distraction. I would remove it. Again, gorgeous photo!


Initial reaction for me was also the dramatic sky - and then the red mountains… so I thought to myself, well, I wasn’t there and colors are most often so subjective. But then I tried to connect the orange clouds up top - to the red on the mountains and it just doesn’t seem right. I mean the late light, setting sun (or rising I should say…) that orange, yellow and pink, purple and magenta colors are usually reflected on the moutains as well… and I just don’t see the color in the mountain reflecting what might be going on in the sky to the east (sunrise).

Secondly, others have noticed as well, but there are a lot of paint/masking paths throughout most of the image. It’s as if this is not the final edit, but one of the layers? I checked out your work on the website, and all your images are beautiful and beautifully processed, so this one seems to be an anomalie. Least of all the nits, there’s a big dust bunny in the sky, upper right.

As others also mentioned, I think this has the potential to be a very dynamic and beautiful RMNP landscape.

Hi Everyone,

Here is the reprocessed image based on your valuable feedback. Go for it again.

1 Like

Yes! That works so much better than the original. The colors look more balanced, nuanced and natural. The light just kissing the tops of the mountains is really nice and works well against the still deeper shadows below. Super!

Thank you, Kristen. I appreciate the great comments provided by you and other NPN members. Ray

Your reprocessed image looks great Ray. Definitely more balanced and natural looking.