The Crystal Tree (+ alternate versions)


Version 2 (with more space at the bottom):

Another alternate view of the scene:

Critique Style Requested: Initial Reaction

Please share your immediate response to the image before reading the photographer’s intent (obscured text below) or other comments. The photographer seeks a genuinely unbiased first impression.

Questions to guide your feedback

What do you feel or what comes to mind when you see this image?

Other Information

Please leave your feedback before viewing the blurred information below, once you have replied, click to reveal the text and see if your assessment aligns with the photographer. Remember, this if for their benefit to learn what your unbiased reaction is.

Image Description

I shot this ice encrusted tree back in April after a spring storm brought rain or mist and everything from all of the twigs to every single blade of grass was coated in a thick layer of ice. To me, this tree feels awe-inspiring and magical. I liked how it stood above the forests below and how it contrasted with them tone wise.

Technical Details

Canon 5Dmk4 with the 24-105mm STM EF lens at 64mm.
Exposure: 1/400s at f/8.

Specific Feedback

Other than your emotional response to this I’m interested in what you think of the aesthetics - the toned black and white, etc.

At first sight: an infrared image. But then: the tree seems to be bare, no foliage that appears bright in IR. And the ground under the tree is bright as well. Winter? Hoarfrost?
Anyhow, a very pleasing image with the beautiful tree as the star of the show. Standing out against the dark BG and the grey sky.


Bold and beautiful. Like Han, my first impression was also IR, but upon further and big version review, it looks like a leafless winter tree and hoar frost! I guess the grass/soil at the bottom cold also have a layer of frost… but it’s got me guessing!

The tree is just a wonderful specimen and the frost really brings it all out. I briefly thought of a crop, but then no, I like the additional context on the left about it’s location and of course I can’t forget about the clouds - very complimentary to the scene and image.

Aesthetics wise and processing, I’d say the tonal qualities and b&w presentation in general are excellent!

My only wish is for perhaps some extra room at the bottom. I expect a tough call (whether or not you have more room at the bottom…) Adding more to the bottom for space would also reveal more brightness at the bottom. And given it is ice/frost it would be a tough call to darken it, because they it would no longer look like frost/ice! So in the end, I think you did well with the crop/framing.


Tom, my first reaction was a ray of sunlight coming through the clouds above and illuminating the tree. It was as if the skies were opening up after a storm.

This is a very striking image. I love the darker tones in the BG. They accentuate the whiteness of the tree. The narrow space you left at the bottom of the photo kept viewers from being distracted by all that snow. May I ask what time of day you captured the image? I’m only curious because the shadows I can see are nearly under the tree only.

Beautiful and cold scene you got for us here! Now, I’ll read the blurred text.

My first reaction is a feeling of cold/winter and the main subject tree’s persistence. I image this is an infrared so I bet it’s not during winter at all!

Thank you @Han_Schutten , @Lon_Overacker , @Egídio and @DeanRoyer for taking the time to comment. It was really interesting to me when I read that this looked like an IR image to people. I mean it does look like that but because I was there and because I shot this it never occurred to me.

Lon, I found another version of the image in my catalog that I had some overlooked earlier. It has a smidge more space at the bottom and when I compare the two, I think I like it more and I’ve added it to my original post. I’m also including another version of the shot, this one is in colour though.

Egidio, I had a look at the exif and this image was shot right around noon so the sun was pretty high up. The clouds were moving fast and that allowed the sun to shine through for a few seconds every few minutes or so. This image was shot during one of these brief times when the sun shone right on to the ice covered trees making them shine. Otherwise they didn’t stand out from the background at all.

1 Like


Yeah, I like the extra little space at the bottom on the second post. And Wow! Love the color version! Such a vibrant scene in color. and the presence of the snow, as well as the amount, work beautifully in the color version (I was concerned the field of snow would detract, but it doesn’t in either color or b&w.

Thanks for taking the time to re-work and considering the suggestions!


Tom, thank you for your response. I thought that was the case because of the shadows under the large tree.

It’s funny how our brains get tricked by prior programming; I too thought IR initially. I do like the version with more room on the bottom, and love that little section of river sneaking into the background.

Tom, that thoroughly iced tree is a great specimen. I like the more ground version and am thinking that if you have it, having the ground come to the lower left corner might be good. I like the b&w treatment and where you’ve placed the tree. I also like the stormy sky and the long distance view. The color version is also outstanding as it really shows off the ice on the tree and the land. I’m intrigued that the ice is on the tree and hill in the foreground and not on the distant lands, must have been quite the storm.

I like how the tree looks more like an etching than a photograph. I like the composition of the color image better, but I think black and white is the way to go. Very nice image, I think trees are one of the most fascinating objects to photograph. Thanks for sharing.

Exquisite image Tom. My initial reaction was that it looked like an IR mage. I also like the color version. Well seen and captured.

Thank you for taking the time to comment @John_Williams , @Mark_Seaver , @holgermischke and a @Eva_McDermott ! :slight_smile:

It was a really great day and time for photography and it almost didn’t happen. Originally, we were supposed to go to a different location, high up in the mountains but the chair lift wasn’t running that day and it would have been too long to hike up there so we decided to go hiking here instead. I don’t think we could have chosen better. It was like being in a fairy tale. :slight_smile:

Despite the clouds I find this image to be quite optimistic. It has a feel of cold and freshness. It’s how one feels with newly fallen snow. It’s the feel of white laundry that’s come out of the dryer?

I don’t have strong feelings between #1 and #2. The colored version is inferior.

Congratulations on the weekly pick.


A beautiful image - my first thought was ‘very dreamy, moody’. A wonderful feel to it. I do like the second post with a tad more room at the base. The third image, while lovely, takes some of the ‘star status’ away from that one tree, yet there is a lovely depth to the scene with the other tree ‘echoing’ the frosty conditions. Both work for me!