Rock Stars

Well, 2020 has proven to be the winter that wasn’t in the Northeast USA. It has been unusually warm, with little snow. In February I took a trip to Acadia National Park with @Alan_Kreyger, hoping to shoot snowy winter seascapes. During a week in the park we had a day of freezing rain, two days of rain, and a day of snow that melted away quickly in the rain.

Due to the conditions, we instead focused on finding intimate small scenes. These two “rock stars” were found along the partially frozen edges of a creek at Hunters Beach. I like how the ice formed rays around the rocks, which reminded me of shining stars.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any critique or comments are welcome

Trying out white image borders for presentation. Curious as to thoughts on the presentation with the borders, as well as comments on the image itself.

Rework with cooler WB, and more vibrance added.


This is very, very fascinating and a great abstract. The white border looks good. No suggestions here, looks great.


Despite the unusual weather we had a good trip, and of course we had Acadia all to ourselves!
Thanks again for guiding us thru less than ideal conditions.

You have a good eye for these intimate ice formations and this one is a great example. The “rays” are very interesting and dominate the scene but I also like the inclusion of the two diagonal lines in the LRC. It makes me wonder why they formed in a different direction and creates additional interest.

The white border works well!

I’m partial to these kinds of small scenes, @Ed_McGuirk. I was just shooting some yesterday at a high altitude frozen lake. You should consider a trip to Colorado if you’re missing winter.

In your image I like the geometry of the compositional elements; namely, the round rock, the linear rock, and the radial ice. The flat light, though, isn’t helping and was something I was working to improve yesterday on my shoot. I think these small scenes are helped immensely by extraordinary light because they are common yet ephemeral scenes that don’t hold our attention otherwise.

When extraordinary light happens it is really difficult to avoid shooting the big scene. I would argue it is exactly then when we should focus on these scenes and expand our vision. On your trip, the light unfortunately never cooperated.

What do you think?

This is really nice, Ed. The lines and shapes in this image are really placed nicely for an interesting image. Well seen and captured. When you have lemons, you make lemonade!

This is excellent Ed. The radiating ice with the solid shapes has a lot of energy, positive energy. Like the Egyptian sun god, Ra, the source of life. How’s that for a stretch?

I like your color understated look here but I think you could get away with more color and perhaps even play with color casts. In fact, you could even rev up the texture a bit and make those ice crystals sparkle a bit more. But the composition is perfect and once you have that all else is gravy in my opinion.

@Igor_Doncov @Shirley_Freeman @Harley_Goldman @Matt_Lancaster @Alan_Kreyger thank you all for your comments.

Igor, I have posted a rework that cools the image down and adds some more vibrance for a bit less understated look, posted back above next to the original image.

Well Alan, you saw how the water in these creeks can flow both upstream and downstream at different times, perhaps that has something to do with it?

The light here was flat, but as Igor pointed out I was perhaps a bit restrained in my original processing of color and saturation, so I have posted a rework with a little more pop.

I think many intimate scenes like this rely heavily on color, texture, and patterns, and that the soft, even light of overcast days can help to reveal the subtle colors and textures. I do like to do these types of scenes in reflected light, whether that be blue from the sky as in this image, or warm colors in places like the slot canyons of the southwest. I have not tried to do these type of scenes in dramatic light, but it may be worth a go. Do you have any examples from your own images where you have shot intimates in dramatic light?

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The rework nails it for me.

I like the rework Ed. But do you feel that the white ice along the edge of that left rock is a bit too bright? Also, I might prefer the original tighter comp a bit more.

One of the things I like about the rework is that the rocks seem to come out more forward, seem to rise above the ice. There’s more volume to them if that makes sense.

Very fine abstract, Ed. The increased luminance, cooler WB and added vibrance make for a considerable improvement in the rework. PP looks spot-on to me. On the white borders, I think it is very image-dependent. For whatever reason here I find the bright border distracting.

The warmer, less vibrant image does the trick for me, Ed - the spiky forms are what make this image, suggesting some ancient mini-drama played out among the rocks.

It looks like a colony of ciliate. Good seeing and very well processed! I find myself in a different camp here, Ed. I like the warmer, more restrained processing in the original. In that version, the ice does not overwhelm the rocks like in the rework, but rather has become a part of it. I also like the cleaner LR corner and lower left area in the original. Another thing that I notice is that in the original, everything is more abstract than in the rework and I prefer it that way. The original is a winner in my book.

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Ed, the rework is a knockout, lots to look at and enjoy, well done.

A very nice intimate scene, Ed. I like the processing if the re-post, but I prefer the crop of the original. That crop simplifies both lower corners and just cleans it up a bit. Great seeing here.

@Dave_Dillemuth @Ian_Wolfenden @Reno_DiTullio @Craig_Moreau thank you for taking the time to comment on my image.

This is one of those images that there seems to a be a split opinion on the alternate warm vs. cool WB treatments. After sitting on this for a while, I think I now actually prefer the warmer treatment because the rays stand out a little more. But I will probably boost vibrance a little more in the warm version for slightly more pop. I also want to cool the round rock slightly too.

Second rework


Hi @Ed_McGuirk, you found a very interesting scene. I like how you arranged the elements in the frame, border are clean and there are a very interesting textures in around the subjects. I would prefer the tones more warm but it’s also my opinion, the image works well as it is. Thanks for sharing.

This second rework nails it for me!

@Ed_McGuirk I have a few images of intimates in magic light - I’m the first to admit it is difficult to point the camera away from the light onto something else! Look for my post.

I agree, when you have dramatic light, it’s hard to turn away from grand landscapes and shoot intimate scenes. And for the way that I conceptualize intimate small scenes, I’m usually looking for strong details, textures and patterns. And I’ve fallen into the habit of thinking this requires the soft even light of overcast days. So it probably makes sense to consider the possibilities of shooting intimates in more dramatic light. We all get used to doing things that we are comfortable with, but thinking outside the box can be good too. I look forward to seeing your post with an example of intimates in dramatic light.

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Final rework is the winner for me too Ed. It is a subtle balancing act, but much of the beauty here is subtle, and I like the way the final version accentuates without overpowering.