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

As usual, my main concern around any image I make is with respect to creating mood. In this image I have tried to take into consideration how the image was composed, the subject, the colour palette, the weather, and the light in order to create a mood that I would call dynamic repose. I am, as always, interested to know your experience in viewing this picture.

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

This picture has, as its focus, two of my favourite things to photograph – gnarly trees and fog. In the twenty-five plus years my wife and I have been paddling together, this campsite in Algonquin Park was one of our all-time favourites. It is an island that rises dramatically to about seventy feet above the water. We’re looking towards the east end of the island, which is forested and continues rising until it finally drops straight down to the water. The gnarly tree is bare and long-since dead, but remains, pointing up on an angle to the sky like a sentinel or perhaps a bowsprit. It sits on bald rock that terraces its way down to the water. I have some very pretty pictures of the whole tree pointing up into the sky but, in the end, it was the detail that drew me to make this photograph and I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier morning or better lighting to make it – “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”.

Technical Details

Screenshot 2024-05-07 at 4.37.28 PM

Critique Template

Use of the template is optional, but it can help spark ideas.

  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
  • Emotional Impact and Mood:
  • Composition:
  • Balance and Visual Weight:
  • Depth and Dimension:
  • Color:
  • Lighting:
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1 Like

This definitely feels dynamic, with that strong angled tree trunk crossing the outcrop. I don’t get a feeling of repose, though. The way the roots of the tree encircle the outcrop makes me think that the hand of god has come down to grab the earth.

If I think only about the elements in the photo (without the hand of god story), it feels like that tree is falling over. I can see that it’s firmly anchored, but the way it tilts out of the frame is so dynamic that it makes me feel that it’s still moving.

Props on your exposure, btw. That bright morning fog is perfect.


I will second @Bonnie_Lampley comments.

Even only the title tell’s the story. An old beauty. I also second Bonnie’s comment.

‘Tenacity’ seems a better title than ‘Repose’ for this wonderful image. To me, there’s too much tension in the position of the tree to think it’s resting. @Bonnie_Lampley 's hand of god is also an interesting view: what is god going to do with that big rock?

I was in Sweden last October, and this image made me want to go back, as the scenery is very similar to what I encountered there. I love the ethereal morning fog catching the light, the autumn colors, the textures on the tree and the roots gripping the rock. Love it!!

1 Like

I know that you focus on the emotive in your photography. I am trying to be more aware of that in mine, and very much appreciate studying yours. What I really enjoy is when an image manages to combine beauty with the emotive, and that is my initial reaction to this photograph.

I enjoy the way the color is used here, subtle but significant. I think many elements combine to fit your dynamic repose description, including the clarity of the foreground contrast leading to the opacity deeper in the image, and the light leading left while the branch leads right throws in just a touch of tension. The details to explore give the image a lot of intrigue; the twisting and turning of the roots adds a lot.

When I first saw this it was on my phone, and I thought the tree was growing out of an old fallen log. On the computer, the rock made me think of a petrified log.

Well done on this one Kerry.

Once I read Bonnie’s comments I saw this in a different way. But instead of the hand of god I see a claw. Tenacity. Or an old persons fingers. The juxtaposition of this with the peaceful scene in back is interesting and may be a subject of discussion as well. Now to read your comments.

1 Like