Some rocks in a lake near a mountain

Hi guys,

Back with another one to leave at your mercy. This one is from Lake McDonald in Glacier NP and is unfortunately my last decent image I shot that I’ve got lying around from my Glacier trip in July. Crazy to think that a month after I shot this the entire ridge here would be on fire.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

I’m not a huge fan of how the foreground comp turned out. I feel there’s too much dead midground in this image to make the comp as cohesive and flowing as I’d like. do you agree?

Any other feedback is welcome too.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I had a hard time with contrast on this one. It looks crushed on my Apple Thunderbolt Display and washed out on my iPhone X. Others have trended towards washed out in their critiques too. I’ve tried to balance it with an image that looks slightly crunchy on my display and slightly subtle on my iPhone. I’ll have to fix this because it has prompted a good hour of extra editing to get an image I feel works on both devices.

Any pertinent technical details:

Shot on a Nikon D810 with 14-24 f/2.8. Focus stack at 16mm for the foreground at f/11 and background shot around 20mm at f/11. Camera didn’t move for the exposures.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.
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Sam, this is very engaging and quite pretty - real eye candy. The FG stones are so colorful that it’s hard to imagine. Your technique for different focal lengths worked out well. The water is wonderfully clear. Did you use a polarizer?

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Great photograph @Sam_Ison! I was at Glacier NP several years ago, and on that trip, I learned I knew nothing about landscape photography. So, I’m still itching to get back, and try again.

I love the light washing across the peaks, and the subtle ripple in the crystal-clear water. I also really like how the color of the rocks in the foreground match the tones in the sky. I know that the rocks are that color, with or without punching them up, but you did a great job with it. The focal-blending looks natural to me, so well done there.

The photograph looks just fine on my display, so I’m not sure what issue you’re seeing. Have you calibrated your display/monitor?

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Great shot of a place I have always wanted to shoot too. I do tend to like my images a bit on the softer side so this definitely doesn’t look washed out to me. As for looking crushed on the thunderbolt is it calibrated? I sometimes had issued calibrating my screen where if I didn’t hold the device tighly sealed to the screen a crack of light would get in and screw up the results, making my contrast look super crushed.

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Thanks for kind comments guys - appreciate it!

@Bill_Leggett Those stones were really incredible. Hopefully i’ve conveyed their vibrance without going over the top with it. I did indeed use a polariser on this one - i forgot i had because it’s my first ever image with one!

@Ryan_Stikeleather I had about 36 hours there. Not even nearly enough to be honest so i know how you feel! I’m glad you picked up on the ripple. I really liked it as a feature too. Monitor is in a weird state where I think it’s calibrated but the results don’t show it. Unfortuantely my calibrator (Spyder 3) no longer works with its software so I’m unable to calibrate frequently and I’m pretty sure my monitor has lost its calibration at this stage.

@Nathaniel_Merz Thanks for that great tip on the calibrator Nathaniel - that may well be an issue!

Looks pretty good to me. Is the reflection at 20mm too?

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Yep - the blend line is somewhere just below the water ripple.

This is very beautiful. Exceptionally strong foreground and I think you made a great choice to focal blend to keep the mountains from shrinking too much. Processing looks great to my eye. Looks good on my Retina display. I don’t see it as a killer issue but I agree that the mid ground is a bit too large and empty. Ideally a lower POV bringing the reflection closer to the foreground.


Any lower and my camera would basically have been in the water! It’s a tough balance to hit but this was the best I could do. I considered warping and stretching the midground in photoshop but I didn’t get anywhere with that technique. I think next time having the camera less angled down may assist with having it lower - the main issue with this shot was the front of my filter holder dipping into the water rather than the rest of the camera.

The colorful stones really make this image for me. A little cloud action would have sweetened it up and eliminated some of the negative space in the middle. Your focus technique might not have worked as well though. Overall a very pleasing image.

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Beautiful image and a great near/far composition. The colorful stones are captured beautifully and I think you did a great job tempering the color/sat. Also, great job with the focal length blend - never would have guessed.

Not sure why you’re seeing different results on different monitors. Looks good on mine, although my only feedback there would be some added micro contrast in the stones. Just a little bit maybe, not much. Otherwise, processing/colors/sat look good to me.

The light gracing the peaks shows beautifully in the larger views.


Looks real nice to me, Sam. I would agree with Lon about adding some contrast to the rocks but minor stuff. This is a very enjoyable image.

Love this image. These rocks are incredible. I saw a David Muench image of this place 40 years ago and promised myself to go see it. The white rocks on the right really stand out. I would try to do something about them. Well, maybe 2 of them.

Hi Sam,

My thoughts are I think there maybe too much foreground. The reason I think this is that the foreground rocks are just as dominating as the mountain and the reflection and are fighting against each other in the composition.

I think the colours and the contrast are spot on.