Tamaracks - The Last Sentinals of Autumn

This year I have taken on the project of trying to expand my collection of late season autumn images. This image of Tamarack trees was taken in late October in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Tamaracks are fir trees whose needles turn from green to gold in autumn, but this happens late in the season after most of the other trees have lost their leaves. They become lone splashes of color against the nearly bare hillsides. It had rained nearly all morning, but around noon the sun burned through the the clouds just enough to allow a shaft of light to briefly illuminate this stand of tamaracks. The background mountain remained in shade, and the bare trees were this cool toned in real life.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any critique or comments are welcome

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon 5D Mk4, Canon 70-200mm f4 lens, at 200 mm, ISO 400, 1/20 sec at f11


Well Ed, it doesn’t get much better for me. It’s a truly beautiful image. The horizontal fir trees with their golden spires against the curvy diagonals of the bare trees in the background is very appealing. An image to explore for a good while.

The ghost like trees in the background and even the trees on the right are so fascinating that I find the strong yellow trees in the front to be a distraction. It’s not often that the background supersedes the foreground in interest but in this case it does for me. Hopefully you made some compositions of those more distant trees with the occasional yellow popping out.

I was trying to compose a reply when I scrolled down to @Igor_Doncov’s post. As lovely as this is, I think the two more subdued tamracks on the right are enough lead-in to that incredible BG! I also hope to see more of those distant trees with the midrange ones serving as the lead-in.

This is flat out gorgeous, Ed! The star of the show is obviously those tamarack trees bathed in that wonderful light, but I find myself gravitating to all those lovely details and different hues of color on the mountainside behind them. I am hoping that you came away with some images from the BG mountainside as they could work as well. This beauty will fit into your collection of late season autumn images rather nicely IMO.

I too was struck by the background trees. The way the light is hitting them makes it almost look like snow coating the branches! Just beautiful!

I echo the sentiments about the BG trees but I also like what you have presented here. The BG trees show what late season means for everyone else but not for the Tamaracks.

Before reading any comments, I had the exact same thought as @Igor_Doncov . I love the background trees and their ghostly look and I find the foreground trees pulling me away from there.

Wow, what a great late autumn image. Everything is just perfect. Nothing more to say!

An unusual look at this scene. The way you’ve organized things makes my eyes wander a bit, which I have to think is the point. It’s a progression of the season to me, with the latest happenings front and center and the past recedes in the the background. Did the light fall off naturally in this way or did you create that look? Either way it’s effective. I’m not sure about the bright gold group in the middle toward the right. You could have a go at some color painting to match them to the darker ones to the right on the edge. It may make things more harmonious.

Ed, the light does let the foreground trees be the stars. However, the gentle, bright arc of those trees in the back create frame filling interest. I would try some dodging of the second tree edge back there to see how two almost parallel arcs look…as my wife and I say about an experimental meal, “The worst it could be is…terrible.” This is an excellent shot as presented.

@Kris_Smith @Ola_Jovall @Diane_Miller @Ed_Lowe @Harley_Goldman @Adhika_Lie @Mark_Seaver @Vanessa_Hill @Igor_Doncov @glennie

thank you all for taking the time to leave your thoughts and comments on my image.

Yes that was my intent, the story was about the progression of the season.

The light did really fall off like this in real life, i just increased the contrast globally a bit.

Yes, I have a boatload of those shots too. But as I said to Kris, my intent here was to tell a story of the progression of the season. As you go from front to back, the density of autumn color, the luminosity, and the warmth all drop off, echoing the fading of the season.

But I understand the directional concerns some have about the foreground Tamaracks dominating the background. Here is a rework where I have tried to darken / de-saturate the foreground to make it feel a bit more balanced.

I like this direction. I did a VERY quick and dirty job taking it further and trying to put more emphasis on the back range compared to the front.

Ed’s rework answers my concerns. I might crop off the one on the left edge or make it gray to blend in with the mid-distance trees. It’s SO frustrating when a pretty element is too pretty.

I didn’t think this image could get much better, but there it is! Wonderful rework, Ed.

I really enjoy this image, Ed. Like most, I am really drawn to that dramatic band grey, blue, and maroon in the background, especially with that texture. I actually don’t mind having my eye drawn there rather than the bright tamaracks because it makes me feel like I have discovered something hidden for myself. My eye wants to go to the bright yellow, but it shifts back and that’s where the real wow happens. I just like that sense of discovery.

Not that I think this version is any better, but I did experiment with a right-side crop such the ate tamaracks were centered in the frame. This composition results in two different but still balanced tensions: 1) the tension of the warm colors in the foreground and the cool colors in the background; 2) Strong vertical objects in the foreground and a distinctive curving horizontal background. The tone and texture seem to balance nicely. Problem is that this crop loses those wonderful orange trees to the center right, which also is a natural landing place for my eye.

In any case, a very satisfying sceneto look at. Congratulations on an image well-made.

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Jus now seeing this Ed and oh, what an image. The light is just stellar. I love the rework even more than the original which is saying a lot since I really love the original. Those ghostly magenta, purple and grey background trees are incredible and steal the show for sure but then you add in the dappled oranges at the tops of some of the distant trees and you have magic. The rework works so well for me because it tones down the bright foreground and makes it about the entire scene. I love how the foreground trees are standing tall and saying to the world, it’s my time time to shine with the green and yellow leaves in awesome light. You then have some mid ground trees that are off to the right displaying peak colors of bright orange in a perfect composition that doesn’t get in the way of the foreground trees or the back ground trees. And then you have the background trees softly saying that my time is past, the light is fading, winter is nearing and we are preparing for the cold, hard months ahead. The rework is perfection! I just love this image. Did you happen to get an image of just the background trees?

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@jefflafrenierre @David_Haynes thank you for your thoughts and comments

Jeff, I’m not sure I like your suggested square crop. It is a simpler composition, I’ll give you that . But I don’t like losing the splashes of orange color in the right 1/3 of the image. I also think the tighter crop creates too static of a composition, making this more of a tamarack portrait than I want. I think the wider view does a more effective job of pulling the eye to the color and texture in the background, which was a big part of the seasonal transition story that I wanted to tell.

If I was going to do any crop here, it would be from the right to minimize the tree in the LRC, while retaining the splashes of orange.

Yes, that right-side orange is really nice. I definitely don’t think any crop is necessary, in any case.