Rocky Contrast

What makes this image expressive?

I was first attracted to the flower stalk that’s creating the shadow, but once I saw the rock behind it, the shadow and the contrasts (light/shadow, smooth/rough, and red/green), I realized that was the image I wanted.

Specific Feedback Requested

Thanks Alister for any comments, but I’m interested in whether you think the composition works, and if the highlights are too much in the upper center. Its a new type of image for me…


Oh I like it! Lately I’ve shot a few like this, but with ferns. Terrific lichen formations. I like it and will save any critique until after Alister has a go at it.

Hi Larry,

This one really stands out for me, it’s really quite different, and I like the use of the silhouette. It asks a lot of questions and is quite surprising, so on that regard I like it a lot.

Expressive Photography is reliant on an intention; be that aesthetic, metaphorical, meaningful, or emotional. What is the purpose of the image? Only then can a degree of objective assessment be expressed. ie. did the artist achieve what they were trying to express?

As it stands, it isn’t clear what the intention is, so I can only discuss the impact the image has on me and infuse it with my meaning and my metaphor, all of which are products of my imagination.

I think this is a common problem in contemporary photography, the lack of Why?

As I said at the top of the post, I like the image and it’s kind of playful. I find the greens at the bottom a little over-saturated compared to the rest of the scene, as I’d expect a little more consistency in them across the frame.

Have a think about what you are trying to convey with the image, then you have a clearer idea of what you need the image to say.

Hi Alister,
Thanks for your insights. As far as the “why”, I think my intent was to simply take an interesting little scene, full of different contrasts found in nature (light/dark, rough/smooth, red/green), and present it in a pleasing manner, as best as I could. You could say an aesthetic intent if anything. Certainly not meant to be overwhelmingly emotive, just maybe bring a brief smile to the viewer.


Getting back to you here. I like it because you saw it and I probably would have too. Intent is a difficult thing to parse sometimes. For me, like you, it’s mostly to convey an interesting scene or document nature doing its thing. With something like this I might have positioned the shadow in the frame differently. The overall outline of the shadow and the lichen nearest to it is roughly the same so I may have played with moving it into the space more and having that similarity be more apparent.

Another thing you can do is look for how the shadow overlaps the background and whether you can find any intersections that make things even more abstract. Like how camouflage works you want to find some disruptions in the forms that break them up. Putting the shadow up into the green area might have been interesting as well. You’d probably have had to get pretty low to do it.

Thanks Kristen,
Good suggestions that I will keep in mind for next time. Actually, I had thought about getting lower to change the shadow but I had another rock there. :slight_smile: I suppose I could have held the flower stalk that was casting it a different position it but it was an awkwardly placed and I had to take this hand-held.
Thanks for the feedback.

I think this is very interesting and worth the time to enjoy! I do think it would be interesting to lighten the darker areas near the bottom and modify the greens to a more natural look. I’d also consider darkening the bright area near the top. Moving the camera position wouldn’t change where the shadows hit – you’d have to move the branch, as Larry said. It could be nice more centered in the tannish area, but maybe not easy.

Thanks Diane. Good feedback. Interestingly, I compared the greens from the post to the original and there’s a slight difference - maybe monitor calibration adjustment. In any case, thanks for the suggestions, I’ll try them out.