Sage Advice +b&w repost

Not sure how this will play here, but very curious for your comments, critiques and suggestions. I’m reminded and this is inspired by an image captured by @Youssef_Ismail a number of years ago in the same area along the June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra. Sage and Rabbit Brush can be quite beautiful in evening light. But also can be quite moody and graphic in their death and decay. the landscape is literally covered with these hearty plans and can make for some interesting photography.

While I think the b&w is quite fitting for the subject, I’m posting the color version that retains the blue/cyan that is present in the early morning light before the sun’s rays appear anywhere.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Anything on processing.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Which do you prefer? Does the tree - like shape of the main trunks hold enough interest?

Any pertinent technical details:

Nikon D800E, 28-300mm @72mm f/16 1s. Single image processed in ACR, PSCC

Thanks for any comments!

oh, the straight b&w version:

Thanks much for the feedback. I do like the kind of haunting of the color version, but agree the b&w a bit more classic and appropriate. I actually did have a layer to lighten those horizontal branches, but I think I was a little tentative. Also did a little tidy cloning cleanup around the frame.

@Preston_Birdwell, thanks for the correct ID on the plant. I can always count on you for your great knowledge of the area, including geology, trees and vegetation!

@Dave_Dillemuth, yeah, wasn’t happy with the extra vegetation. So I also cropped in just a tad from left and top to mitigate. Hope this works better.

thanks for looking and commenting!

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

pretty haunting in blue. dig it!

Lon this is a very striking image, with a dark mood that has a lot of impact for me. I looked at the image before seeing your comments, and thought that it was a cool toned B&W image. I was very surprised to read that it was the color image instead. I definitely think the tree holds enough interest, and you positioned it at a nice angle. My only nitpick is that I would like to see a little more of the upper left branch of the tree, but that is minor, and it works for me as presented.

The straight B&W image stands very well on it’s own too. In your processing of the B&W, you have darkened down the stuff around the tree, making it stand out out visually. I think that same approach could be applied to the color image as well, which would help it. I go back and forth, but in the end I like both versions. The B&W is a more traditional treatment, but I applaud you you for taking a risk on the color version, it works for me.

First off, beautiful image. This is very much my kind of image (reminds me of the Splayed image I posted few weeks ago from Wyoming). I definitely prefer the straight B&W, but that is just a personal preference. The color version has its own appealing mood. I prefer the slightly wider view in the B&W version. Now here is the hard part to convey. The real meat of this is the lighter branches, which provide much of the image structure. That said, I am finding the nice lines at the bottom really get lost being so dark and to my eye, that gives the image an unbalanced look to me (bottom heavy). I would bring up the mids in the horizontal sticks/roots and see how it works. You could leave the corners as is for a nice vignette effect.

I like this a lot. It is not really an NPN image, but is really nice! I think John Sexton could post some of his best here and it would not get much attention. :grinning:

Dead or struggling sage often have fascinating shapes. The angled main trunk and your emphasis on the 3 main branches looks good here, Lon. The blue version has an extra chill that fits well. I agree with Harley, that a bit of dodging on the horizontal branches at the bottom might look good. I also agree with his comment about “NPN style”, where complex images tend to get overlooked.

@Harley_Goldman, good call on the dodging/lightening of the lower branches/roots. (Actually, to point this out, this “tree” is flat on the ground and not erect like a tree would be. I did just look like a tree on it’s side…)

I had actually done some lightening along the main branches of the sage, but not enough. At the same time I had to significantly reduce the bright areas of the main branches as well.

Thanks for the comments!

@Lon_Overacker This does remind me of Youssef’s image from Aerie Crags area. I prefer the straight B&W, which has more impact for me.

I agree with Harley regarding tweaking the lower portion.

Also, I believe this plant is Creosote Bush, rather than sage. I do like the title of your post, even if this not sage.

Wonderful, Lon. This image has a stark beauty. Depending on mood I could go with either rendering but I guess right now I’m inclined to prefer the B&W. In reading through the comments I agree that dodging the horizontal branches at the bottom may improve the balance and tighten up the composition. Minor stuff but I also might experiment with cropping out some or all of the leaves protruding in the upper left.

Great job on the repost. To my eye, the composition is far more cohesive and balanced in this one. Well done.

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Yep! The re-post is the ticket. Your tweaks really opened things up nicely.

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The last one works well, the crop is just right.
The blue one however does grow on me…

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Good call by Harley and the last repost is the best of the three. For me the folded ‘legs’ at the bottom of the image is the weakest part. A crop just below the lighter part of the main branch gives a ‘star’ composition with branches pointing out away from the center. I think that would be a stronger comp (maybe). If that works for you than I would think whether to lighten up some of the thicker branches on the left.

Lon, an outstanding composition. While I like the B&W there is something about those blue tones in the color version that just captures the mood of that dead withered sage. It is such a striking image. The reworked version is better and I wonder if the color version would benefit from the same adjustments.

I’ve tried to take shots like this but have never come close to this one, which is gorgeous. I like the blue tint but I also like the last post with the bottom roots lightened. Truly fine!