Redwood Magic

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

I’m working on my no-tripod skills. So, any feedback on image quality as it relates to hand held photography would be great.

In addition, I would love any feedback on the balance in the composition as it’s something I’m always fine-tuning. Thanks!

Other Information

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Image Description

One of the first images in my new project “Roadside Trees”. I suspect it will take quite a long time to make a more full collection.

This one is from a foggy morning drive in Northern California. It was tricky finding a safe place to pull over. The Fog kept moving in and out and blowing through the trees like it was it’s own entity. Fog + redwoods = MAGIC!

Technical Details

Body: Sony a7iii, full spectrum conversion, 720 nm infrared filter
Lens: Tamron 28-200mm
Shutter speed: 1/400
Aperature: f8
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 72mm


Hello Brie! I certainly agree that fog weaving amongst the trees is magical! And this image is proof of that.

I also shoot infrared (720nm), so I was immediately struck by your image. I find the tall trees on the left with the contrast of the strong trunks and ethereal leaves wisping out quite lovely. Where I get hung up is the clump of trees on the right, where I get stuck on the dark area below. If you could open up those shadows the image would flow better.

Thanks Susanna! I did play around with those shadows but I’ll definitely give them another look.

I keep coming back to this image for it keeps me guessing what it is. From a distance I thought it looked like layers of smoke rising from the forest. Then upon closer examination I see it’s an IR image. Tough photography. A slight opening of the lower left might bring up the dark trees and the lower right might also benefit from the same. Trouble is that any changes might alter the feel of the overall image. That said is it sky on the top right that is bright? As for no tripod, sure seems just fine to me, but being a new member I have not figured out how to fill my screen with images yet.

Hi Brie!
As for no tripod, no worries. Everything looks sharp, and it doesn’t look like you sacrificed any quality to work handheld.
On balance, I’m like you, still trying to figure it out. And slowly. What I find out of balance is the brightness up top, so I’d crop down about 1/5 of the way. After that it’s what am I balancing around? I’d use that mysterious roadway to invite the viewer to the bottom of the frame, by making the trees on the right lighter and fluffier, with fading contrast as it floats back down the road. Go for a “walk to paradise garden” sort of feel, walking around the corner of that middle tree trunk. Everything should balance around that focal point. I don’t think you need a black in this image, or even a Zone 1 or 2.
I may have said too much. That’s what I’d do next, and then I’d create another virtual copy and do something else.