Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This was taken at Artist Point in Yellowstone NP and was my favorite tree. I wondered how many years this lone little tree had been hanging on to that rock outcropping. It had obviously endured a lot of hardship in its life, but kept standing firm.

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Technical Details

1/100 sec. @f10, ISO 4000
Canon EOS R6, RF 100-500mm lens

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1 Like

Chris, when I come across a wildly shapped tree (like this), I often spend a few minutes thinking about scenarios that describe why it grew in such a shape. This one leave me guessing totally. It looks like something fell on it, but since there aren’t any other trees nearby, what fell and where it came from are hard to guess. It’s shape and color stand out very well with the nicely abstract background (of cliffs) adding interest. The sharpness and color of its perch look good also.

Hey Chris, what a lovely shot! You’ve done a really good job differentiating the tree from its background, and even the foreground from the background, and the tree. The tree trunk is has the perfect darkness, and the needles contrast with their refreshing brightness. But my favorite thing about this is what I call the “gesture” present in the figure of the tree. It is more than just a tree, it’s a story. Love it - wouldn’t change a thing.

@Mark_Seaver @connie4 Thank you both for taking the time to comment on my image.

Hi Chris,
I see why this is your favorite tree. It’s the little tree that could! To Mark’s quandary above, I’m thinking a really heavy snow at a precarious point in life? Or maybe a rock slide of some sort? It’s hard to determine how far away the rock wall is. Whatever happened seemed to cause some long-term injury that eventually righted itself.

I Love how the green needles and the green lichen on the red rock create some really interesting color. The out of focus background helps define the subject and keep us there for the most part.

I do find my eye wandering to the upper left and right darker patterns on the rock. I might be the lone voice on that, and maybe it’s not an issue. I imagine you have your own ways of dealing with this kind of thing, but I was thinking a slight vignette (even a reverse vignette making that corner lighter) might work or using the circular filter in LR, reversing it to select the outside of the circle, and then reducing saturation, contrast, texture, and clarity just a tishy-tish might do the trick. Or crop down just a tish so those two darker areas create their own vignette without having a contrasting color above them? That could work too.

The second option (cropping) might look like this, but a square crop is an artistic choice you might not like, though it offers stability for a tree that seems to have none otherwise. I did this with a quick screen shot, so positioning the square might need work. It does emphasize the drop rather than the rise between the tree and wall beyond it, but that adds some drama too, I think.

Of course, I’m just looking for nits to pick, but if that has been kind of there unspoken for you as well, it might be worth a shot to see if you can minimize that distracting element in the frame.


@Marylynne_Diggs Thanks for your great feedback and suggestions. I can see your point.

What a characterful little tree, Chris. Nicely seen! The only nit I would note is the darker corners in the LL, UL, and UR. Maybe you put a vignette on this? For some reason, those dark corners aren’t working for me. But that’s a really minor nit. The color of that reddish rock and the green needles really stand out.