Reflections On Beauty +reworked

Reworked to remove the haloes in the reflection. I should have noticed it sooner!

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

Lake Matheson on the South Island of New Zealand is famous for its reflections because of the nature of the water. I am aware of the bright cloud at the bottom of the frame. Is it a distraction?

Creative direction

I wanted to capture the magic of the setting sun, the play of the dark forest, and the blues of the mountains. The main subject was the absolute perfection of the mirror-like surface of the water.

Specific Feedback

Do the color, lighting, and cropping support the overall composition?
What might be the artistic value of the image and its emotional impact?

Technical Details

Taken with a Sony a7iv on a tripod. ISO 100, f/i, 1/8 sec.
Processed in LR and PS using Topaz DeNoise and TK8 filters.


This was taken during a photography workshop in New Zealand. We hiked into the lake for about a mile to reach this spot. A couple and their son from Australia were fascinated by what I was doing with my camera settings. The man finally got out his cell phone to share his many pictures. We were fellow photographers enjoying the moment.

Hello Barbara! What a beautiful place! Something about mountains reflecting in lakes is just hard to pass up. The way the trees recede to reveal the mountains behind is really cool too. I think what this images lacks is something that was likely completely out of your control, I’m assuming on trips like this you cant just stay in one spot for a few hours. Some light on those mountains would have been really nice.

I selected the wrong image for my example (clearly by the halo around the tree) but I thought adding some contrast into the middle of the frame and pulling out some details in there would break things up a little bit. I also burned the top edge just a little bit to bring out a touch more color and drama up there.

A lovely scene! The light wasn’t the best but that was beyond your control. I wonder if you can pull out more detail in the mountains? Would be good to remove the bright cloud at the bottom, or else include more of it in the top edge.

This seems to be problems-with-masks day. You’d think all this AI stuff could be directed to things like that, given its abilities to place a 1960s Volkswagen on top of a tree.

The by-now-classic TK tonal masks are awesome in the way they provide gradual transitions.

@David_Wallace and @Diane_Miller, Thanks to both of you. I like what David did with the contrast. It livens up the scene. I think that it adds detail to the mountains that Diane was referencing. I agree that the bright cloud at the bottom has to go. I was attached to it, but it isn’t helpful to the composition. The burning on the top edge is also a great idea. Thanks.

I spent every possible minute I could at this location. The cloud cover did not offer any more light on the mountains.

Barbara I love this image just as most of your photos taken in New Zeland. Your Country and Italy have many things in common including landscapes. Your photo is beautiful as it is and I have nothing to add. I only want to say that you should reflect before cutting the clouds reflected in the bottom because I like the reflections that show something more of the real world, but this is only me.

After traveling to New Zealand this last June I can begin to wish it was my country. I live in the USA in California where it is dry with a desert climate. Thank you, @Giuseppe_Guadagno for taking the time to comment on this picture.

There is detail in them thar hills! A sloppy mask with the Quick Selection tool (there are much more elegant ways) and a masked curves brought out this much without obvious damage. You could go much further. Might be perfect for TK tonal masks.

Thar sure are. I agree about the TK tonal masks. I will be reworking it with all the good suggestions from @Diane_Miller and @David_Wallace . Both much appreciated.