Swell patterns

Edited version


Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


One of many images from a Thanksgiving week trip to the San Rafael Swell in Utah. This shot was from one of our campsites. The crux kept drawing my eye and when I squinted, I saw Mondrian patterns in Old West colors.

Specific Feedback

Thank you for any/all comments!

Technical Details

Canon EOS RP + EF100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @400 mm
5 s @ f/16, ISO100

Nice triangles meeting in the middle. The two bushes on the right aren’t helping the composition. I am puzzled about the image overall though - almost none of it is in focus and everything is basically muddy and crushed in terms of exposure and contrast. It’s a very small jpg file so that may be part of it, but it’s difficult to tell. Did you process this at all? Hm…

I like the lighting and the composition but the lack of focus doesn’t work for me.

@_Kris @Igor_Doncov
Thank you so much for your honest responses. NPN rocks! I am learning a lot.

This was a bit of an experiment where I thought the out of focus foreground created some depth within the weird telephoto shot. However, it seems that did not read well! Live and learn.

As for processing, I cropped and did some other minor adjustments in Lightroom. But it seems that I have a more general “problem” that I tend to like underexposed images. Not sure why. I am trying to be faithful to the histogram and shoot the right, but it seems I never like those images as well, and I’m not sure how to train my eye differently. On this last trip I bracketed almost everything, so I’ll make a point to use the more exposed versions as I process other images in this batch.

Looking at this image, and the one I just commented on, makes me wonder. Are you working on a calibrated monitor?

I am using a calibrated monitor. I even have moved it to a darker location so I don’t have to crank the brightness. I think I prefer the darker images even in-camera because they appear more saturated. So I think I need to change my workflow to start with the more exposed ones and then add back the saturation and contrast that I like when I process. In these particular images, I also think I’ve erred too much towards being true to the actual light at the time I took them instead of just making the best images. I’ll see what I can do when I process the next ones from this batch.

Good deal; just wanted to be sure we were all speaking the same language. I think it’s challenging in that those of us that weren’t there have to assess the image removed from the moment, and that does change appreciation. Both of these recent images do impress me as being significantly under-exposed; the histogram on this one is way to the left with really nothing in the upper half. That may match what the eye saw, but it’s challenging when viewing removed from the real-time view.

OK, even though this image has significant problems, I still tried to edit in line with the suggestions. I think it’s better at least and a good learning exercise. Thanks for the comments!