River of Light

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


I have always loved the way light reflects off bracken. It can be a curse in a photo but I feel I found a great way to use it in this photo. Strathbogie Tablelands, Victoria, Australia

Specific Feedback

Any feedback or responses welcome.

Technical Details

1/100 f7.1, iso 320, Eos5d mk2 with 50mm lense

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:
  • Processing:
  • Technical:

I love this image; the S curve of the light walks the viewer through the scene.
The dark and light tones work great.

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I love the mystery evoked by this image. Balancing the shadows and light in an image like this can be challenging and you’ve handled it masterfully here. And, of course, your title “River of Light” perfectly describes the central theme of this photograph. Beautifully seen and executed.

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What an engaging and immersive image. Bracken makes for a wonderful subject and I’ve only pulled off good photos a handful of times. You’re right about its reflectivity and you’ve made it work here. The fall of light is gentle and both illuminates and shades to create the mystery Kerry noted. The mood is quiet and a bit close; as if blanketed in the humidity of the woodland. Can you talk about the process a bit? Did this composition immediately jump out at your or did you have to really work the scene?

Processing looks great and there is excellent depth here. The top edge though is quite heavy and dark. Getting higher might have helped, but could have been hard to do. A scroll crop definitely helps IMO, and restores balance and improves focus and interest. Congratulations on producing such a treat for the eyes.

The light in your image is like a river . Those dark trees as the stones in that river.
Just beautiful!!

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The composition is very nice and the use of the reflected light on the braken ferns was a great idea. I feel that the overall image though has too much contrast, and because of that the greens throughout the photo are lost. This might be a great candidate for a black-and-white conversion. You can retain the river of light and accentuate the fern patterns much better.

Thanks Youssef. I originally did convert it to B&W for that very reason. However I got a lot of interest in the color one so that’s why it’s there. I’ll put it up.

Thanks Kristin. When I look again I agree that the top is a little heavy. That’s probably due to me being a little heavy handed with darkening. I assume you mean a small crop rather than a scroll crop? I looked at that and I agree it is an improvement. I’ll try knocking back the darkening a bit first though.
Yes this composition did just leap out at me. Because I photograph mostly in open forest there is a lot of bracken so I am always tuned in to what the light is doing on it. I mostly just wander in the forest paying attention to where the light is falling. My photos are all hand held.
I did a B&W version which I have posted in another reply to Youssef

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Yup, scroll crop, meaning I just scrolled down to exclude the top and for me it worked a treat. Of course, your photo, your call, but food for thought. So great that this was an instant catch that didn’t need much in the way of tweaking. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it’s like the universe tapping your shoulder and pointing.

Here’s a little site tip for you that will help with your critique posts -

Showing your edited image side by side with the original image is a good idea. Viewers won’t have to scroll up and down to search for the edited image. While doing this, it is also helpful to edit the post’s title to indicate a revised image. Here’s what I suggest:

At the bottom of your post, click the pencil to edit the post. You are then taken to the edit mode of your entry. If you want the edited image to appear first, I suggest placing the cursor at the top before the original image. Otherwise, go to the line after the original image and upload the new image. Since you are in edit mode, you can add new text before/after the images to ensure viewers know the original and edited versions. You can also edit the post’s title and add something to indicate a reworked or newly edited image. For example, some people add (+ rework) after the post title. I hope this helps.

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The paths of bright vegetation is a cool thing to have seen and offered. The texture of the foreground ferns are a real highlight to me.

I agree that the there is a lot of very dark hiding some interesting detail. In the version below I was able to find some detail, even working with jpeg.
The “river” aspect is a little diffuse to my eye, with bright areas in the upper left and the bright young tree in the upper center. I rather shamelessly tried to make the river a bit more obvious.
(the large white frame seemed too large for me)

The changes made by @Dick_Knudson is what I had in mind. I would drop the brightest brights in the upper section. Great idea and well seen by the photographer. The light on the big ferns at the bottom make this image for me.

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Thanks Kristin, I will do that for my next image. Its really interesting getting other peoples ideas about how an image could be improved. I generally work in a society of one. And great to get the positive feedback too.

Thanks Dick. I like what you have done. I have a tendency to be heavy handed away from the light areas. I like areas of deep black, but bringing out that detail is a definite improvement. When I looked at the small bright tree at the top, I realised that I had just thought it part of the river, but its a different plane altogether. I wondered after your post why my original posting had that white border around it. I realised that I must have put in an image that was for Instagram that I had put through SquareReady so The whole image could be shown. Thankyou for your informative feedback