Smokies Fall Trip Image Critique

It’s been a hectic fall and I am just now getting to some images of my October trip to the Smokies. I started with three of the compositions I liked a lot at the time of exposure and would love to get some feedback. I know what I like and don’t like about each but would like to hear from everyone here which they feel were the most successful. Feedback on any or all 3 would be great!

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?


Any pertinent technical details:

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


All three are processed very well. My favorite is the second one. I like the balanced composition and all the elements seem to work together. There’s a cool nature story too with how those roots seem to just have a death grip on the giant rock. That one is well seen.


Art, really a nice collection! I prefer 3 - 2 - 1. I think the colors are handled nicely in all, except in #3 the bright yellow leaves in the back ground keep grabbing my eye, I might try burning them down a bit. That is a nit pic though. As Lon said, 2 tells a great story but I am drawn to the unique composition of #3 and how the river circles the tree. Even though the tree is quite a strong subject I find my eye working around it and up river. Very well seen!

#2 is the best because it transcends it’s visual appearance. It conveys tension and stress and even aggression. Basically it delivers emotion beyond the subject itself.

#3 is a pretty scene. It’s very beautiful and does carry some emotion but you’re primarily drawn to it for it’s beauty. The splashes of yellow on the dark bg with the fg tree makes for a nice composition. A faster SS could have provided more detail to the water.

#1 is the most ordinary of the three. The best thing about it is the lively green foliage on the left and the tree that’s in front of the fallen log.

That’s based upon my personal value system in photography and may be different from anyone else’s.

My favourite is #3. Fine scene, fine mood. Although I’m no fan of these very long exposures, as they take away the dynamics in the water. I prefer to have a bit more detail. But I know that I row against the direction of the flow :slight_smile:
The yellow leaves in the BG are no problem for me.

Thank you very much for all of the feedback gentlemen.

Lon - I agree as the 2nd is my favorite and most unique of the bunch. I appreciate your thoughts on it.

Alan - I am glad that #3 resonated with you as it was more work to shoot in the field and I was excited about it while shooting it. I had to wade into the fast moving water which was ICE cold and spent about 45 minutes moving around that foreground tree working different compositions. The tree had so much character that I was determined to find a composition that showed it in its unique environment in the river. I wasn’t quite as drawn to the final image as I had hoped, but I really want to like it. I am sure with time my opinions will change.

Igor - The tension and story of #2 was what drew me to it in the field so I am glad that wasn’t lost in the final image. The water in the other images was actually blended from faster exposures to retain detail compared to the base exposure (as they were low light and multiple seconds long). The speed for the water details was between .5 and 1 second, but I could modify the final image to retain even more water detail.

Han - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased that the composition was somewhat successful as it was a decent amount of work as I explained above :-). It was actually a blend of two exposures, to retain detail in the water since the main exposure was multiple seconds long. The water was moving very fast so even with a 0.5 second exposure at higher ISO than the base image, there is still quite a bit of movement. I agree with you though and avoid multiple second exposures of water in most images to retain water detail. I prefer some motion to be evident rather than freezing the water, but a slightly faster exposure here could have been even better. Normally around 0.5 seconds is a sweet spot for moving water to me, where it retains detail but conveys motion. Here I probably could have gone down to a quarter second to retain a bit more detail considering the speed of the flow.