Serpents Tail


Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Those of you who have spent much time in Death Valley have probably explored this area a bit. I loved it…maybe my favorite spot but I didn’t feel like I came away with much that really captured what I was drawn to. This one is a wider view than what I spent much of my time looking at.

Specific Feedback

Open to pretty much anything on this one. I will zap the tiny bright spot in the BLC. Other than that I tried to tame the highlights that are in the foreground with out muddying them up, curious what you think about that, as well as darkening the wedge on the left side. I wanted some detail there but didn’t want people really spending time there. The payoff, for me at least, was in the top 1/3 with the little spotlight as the icing on the cake. Love to hear your thoughts!

Technical Details

ISO 100, f 9.0, 1/640, 400 mm

In hindsight, should have pushed more toward f/16…i think it was handheld although I cannot really recall.

Critique Template

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  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
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  • Composition:
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  • Depth and Dimension:
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  • Lighting:
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Lovely! The layers of ridges, both in the foreground and background are beautiful. Your taming of the highlights looks fine. I can’t tell where you might have done that - nothing looks muddy. I might even “tame” that LRC even more.

As far as the left-hand wedge, that feels too dark to me. It’s so dark, my eye is drawn to it like a black hole (ok, that’s a bit of an extreme description). Maybe dialing back the darkness there, while brightening the light on that central slope would work.

David, I think this works very well. I like the strong sideways eye movement across the bottom and then into the colorful and shapely mid-ground ridges. The softness of the distant keeps it from competing visually while it adds well to the context. While some dodging of the dark wedge coming from the left is worth trying (especially if you lighten the mid-darks slightly), I think it’s good not to have it competing visually with the main subject. I would also try some slight dodging of the ridge along the bottom to let it play a slightly stronger role.

For me a very strong and dynamic photo with the V created by the dark sides of the two frontal mountains and the fight between high and low lights that continues throuhout every part of the image. A very strong image.

Here is an updated version, what do you all think? @Giuseppe_Guadagno @Mark_Seaver @Bonnie_Lampley

David, I am late to the game. I like the repost. What captures me is the warm light and the textures on the brightest mountain, and the way that line of brightness carries on along the ridge. Is that what you mean by the serpent’s tail? For me, everything else is secondary.

David, the revised version does a good job of adding visual interest throughout the frame. The bit of extra contrast in the distance is a good idea that adds well to the sense of depth, while the subtle dodging of the dark wedge adds balance to the main subject. Those visual comparisons are so much easier when you add the revision to the original post.