The kids, Mom and Dad on the Beach

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


I was really rushed to capture this scene on Botany Bay Beach, Edisto Island, SC. The sun and tide were rising and I was on a narrow strip of dry land. I wanted to ensure a good shot at sun rise.

Specific Feedback

Framing the scene might could use some work. First impression are nice but if the image grows on you I’d like to hear about why.

Technical Details

Nikon Z7 24-70mm f/2.8, shot at 52.0 mm, f/11, 1/10 sec and ISO 64. Used Lightroom for cropping and simple edits/adjustments.

Hi and welcome to NPN. I’ve never spent any time in that part of the US and it seems like I really should. Beachy sunsets are such a big draw and I can see why you wanted to get this scene shot quickly. The trees and the pastel colors work well together.

Being rushed is never optimal and I think this image shows that by including too much sky and not enough water. I like the action of the waves and how they’re breaking on the trees and for me that’s the heart of this image. If you don’t have more water at the bottom (and even if you do), I suggest cropping much tighter onto the trees to emphasize their drama. Having them off center this way is a bit odd as well since, for me at least, the right side doesn’t do a lot for the overall composition. That area is bright and competes with the trees and the sun setting directly behind them.

By eliminating the top and right I think the contrast between the moving water and the still trees would be more effective and also the contrasting colors in the sky and water would be more obvious.

I’m curious about why f/2.8? Generally wide open isn’t necessary to isolate big trees like this in an open area and isn’t in the lens’s sweet spot for sharpness. If you can get back to this area, spending some time before the light show to scope compositions would be helpful, too. But sometimes we have to take it as it comes. A lovely first post.

Site tip - If you do make changes and have a second edit, you can add that to your original post by clicking the pencil (edit) icon at the bottom of your post. This allows us to compare both photos in the viewer one after the other. You can also edit the title with something like + 1 Rework or similar to alert the group that you have done it.

Thank you for the honest feedback. FYI, the lens speed is 2.8 (Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 S Line lens) but the image was taken at f/11. Also, very minor point, but the photo was taken at sun rise.

The beach area is part of a state wildlife management area and for my visit the gated opening at 06:30 am. Does not leave much time to hike out to the shoreline and setup for sunrise.

I’ll go back and work the sky but I don’t recall having much foreground water to work with.



eek, sorry, I totally spaced that. Not enough coffee, clearly! :zzz:

Bummer about the opening time. Reminds me of the Portland Head Light - it closes at sunset. Not before, but at. So getting sunset shots is not possible unless you bribe someone. :wink:

Beautiful shot Steven! I love the wave action and obviously the beautiful light you have going on in this scene. In regards to framing, I think the image might benefit from a tighter crop. If it’s possible to cut off the image just to the right of the rightmost tree I think your eye would be more drawn to the primary light source, the sun. That gap on the right side just seems a bit distracting to me personally. I quite like how dark and silhouetted the trees are, and the stark contrast between tree and sky is gorgeous. Nice shot!

Thank you for the recommendation. Kristen had similar comment about reframing the shot and I agree with both of you. See the revised version. Hopefully it’s not compressed too much.




Welcome to NPN! What a gorgeous first post! The colors are just beautiful - and I might add that IMHO, you processed them perfectly. It’s so, so easy to punch up the colors for sunrise/sunsets, but I’m really enjoying this - as if this is exactly what I would have experienced.

I really enjoy your original composition. I also think the crop works beautifully as well - but as an alternate, not necessarily a significant improvement. They are both gorgeous - again, the colors!

I like the original’s comp because it elevates the wave line as an important element and I think with sunrise/sunet images in to a large body of water, the longer format just seems more pleasing and natural.

And so the ONLY thing about the cropped version is that the waves/ocean seem cramped side-to-side. However, the trees and especially the splash of the wave against the main tree, really show much better in the crop. I’m not sure, but also it appears you darkened slightly - or am I just seeing things.

Speaking of your repost - site tip. Best practice is to edit your original post and add the crop/alt version there, rather than posting in a new comment. That way, the viewer can cycle between the versions for comparison. No biggie, but thought I would mention.

Oh, lastly I like and can see the title reference…

Welcome aboard! We look forward to your images and participation.


@Steven_Bishop the quality seems fine to me! It looks great, just love everything about the shot. Keep up the good work!

Welcome here. I prefer the original over the cropped version because I see most of the elements in this image as being horizontal and therefore the greater the horizontal aspect ratio the better. I would try a 16:9 aspect ratio by cropping some off the top.

Welcome to NPN, Steven. Lovely first post for sure and hoping for lots more just like this.
I first have to say that I love the title. It hooked me into the thumbnail. Very creative. I love the colors the sunrise gave to you and as @Lon_Overacker said, perfectly processed. I also love the splash around the base of the larger tree trunk and the glow of the waters spray. You caught the sun just as it was touching the water’s edge and nothing appears to be blown out with the highlights. Your cropped image looks warmer and with a tough more purple hue to it and I love the colors in the crop but I agree with @Igor_Doncov that this has horizontal lines all over it and I would crop slightly from the right edge and then turn this into a pano. I love the location and I love the image.
I hope you don’t mind but I downloaded your image and did the crop suggested just for fun. The first one is warmer than your original and the second is your original with the crop applied.

Hi Steven, welcome to the community! I love the soft colors in the clouds, and I think you did great on the most challenging and important step, the exposure. (Could take it a step further and get an extra exposure for a sun star) When shooting into the sun it’s always a challenge to get both highlights and shadows without introducing artifacts. A lot of comments suggest cropping, and I get that, but I think the original is a good composition, and would like to see that amount of sky.

I also appreciate the tidbit about the opening time, I’m planning to visit this beach in October, so that’s good to know. Of course the sunrise will be at a different time by then, so I may have more time to explore than you did. :slight_smile:

Lon, Thanks for the comments and making note about the title too. Regarding the image posting tip, I’ll try to do better in my future postings. Thanks again.

@Lance , Thank you for the complements.

@Igor_Doncov , Thanks for your input. I wish I had more room on the left but there were more trees and I wanted to keep the grouping I had.

@David_Haynes , Wow! Thanks for putting in the extra effort and showing me a few things. I really appreciate it. I also like the warmer glow you added.

@Aaron_Smith , Thanks for welcome to the community and recognizing the trade space I was working in.

Yes, there is gate which prevents access during off hours. (Note, the gate will open if you’re departing late.). I highly recommend scouting the area out. It’ll take about twenty minutes from the gate to parking lot, hike the causeway to the beach. Does not leave much time to get your location. Also, monitor the tides ahead of time.

I had visited three location while in the Charleston, SC area, e.g., Botany Bay Beach, Angle Oak Tree and Boone Hall Plantation. If you are interested, see a short video collage I put together at But there is a very nice YouTube video from 2020 at The first four minutes show the beach.

FYI, apparently this beach has several different names, e.g., Botany Beach, Botany Bay Beach, Boneyard Beach, and Driftwood Beach.

I like the videos, thanks for providing the links! I’m only passing through this area so I will just have to take the conditions I get, such as the tide and what time I’m able to get there. So I’ll make do. I was also planning on stopping by the angel oak tree to get that in the old portfolio. Looks like you had found some good compositions there in the video.

Basically I’ll be in the area for one sunset and one sunrise as I head to North Carolina to shoot fall colors. My plan is to do Botany Bay road, driftwood beach, and angel oak tree.

Oh, one last thing, tripods are not allow in the area encompassing the Angle Oak and they have people watching too.

1 Like

Nice tip, thanks!