The palette (+ rework)

Rework based on comments


A while ago I visited the Tiveden NP situated in the middle of Sweden. Amongst other things I photographed water lily leaves situated in smaller lakes in this NP otherwise covered by an old forest. Here is one example. I have already here at NPN posted two other such images, “Reaching for the light” and “The Heart”.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

With this image I just wanted to show this very special lily pad with its colors and traces of decay, for me it is a rather special find. It looks like a palette! I did not make any clean-up, the different stuff situated on the leaf could correspond to different artist tools on the palette. Since the leaf were not cleaned, I also intentionally kept some stems/stuff in the BG water.

Any comments are welcome! I also have some specific question:

  • There are some white lines on the leaf due to reflections in water with curvature due to surface tension – Are these areas a problem? (I have already tried to darken them a tad.)
  • Should the water BG be cleaned up?
  • There is a blue tint in the water, is that good or should it be gray/black instead?

Technical Details

0.6 sec., f/14, ISO 800, Olympus lens 40-150 mm at 120 mm (240 mm equiv.), Olympus camera OM-D E-M1X

The leaf was submerged a little into the water, so I used a polarization filter to take away the water surface reflections. Any remaining “fog” were deleted by applying dehaze in the post-processing software (DxO Photolab 6 Elite - DxO ClearView Plus slider). The water has been darkened, and the color saturation increased somewhat.


Ola, this is a very interesting water lily. The colors are amazing. We have green, yellow and fall red water lilies, but I’ve never seen patched colors like this. Great find. I like your description of it being a Paint Palette and the tools on top. IMO I don’t think the BG needs to be cleaned and I like the bluish tint in the water. It’s the reflection of whites that grabs my eye. The whites look blown out and produced what looks like halos. I was interested to see if anything could be done to reduce the white halos and reduce the whites so I downloaded your image to play a little. Hope that is ok. I only spent about ten minutes using the healing brush, burning and clone tool in PS to clean the whites up a bit. Needs more work if you end up agreeing with me.

Ola, what an exquisite image you presented us. Indeed this is a special find with a strong visual appeal. I think all the stuff on the leaf adds to its attraction. It also goes very well with the name you gave the image. The white lines you refer to do not create any distractions to my eyes. I even compared your photo with the version @Donna_Callais offered. I personally think the white lines are just an added bonus to the image texture. As for the water BG, you might be able to select it and completely darken it. All you’d have would be the lily. Frankly, I am not picky about that. Nature is not always clean. We need to understand that, IMO. I do see the blueish tint you mention, but that does not bother me either. The only thing I would suggest would be to clone out the lighter object from the lily to the left side of the frame and those from the lily to the top of the frame. Somehow, having the lily all by itself would add the idea of floating in space. I’m certain others will feel differently. I do like the exposure and color saturation. It is not overdone and is very pleasing. In brief, this is a fine image and a clear example of nature’s beauty.

Ola, for me this is the best of your three lily-leaf images. I like what @Donna_Callais has done as I found the white reflections a bit distracting (especially the upper ones). I also agree that the stalk on the left should be left in, as it is a key part of the leaf. The colours are superb, and the black sections on the leaf add to the “messy artist” impression. A beautiful image.

First of all, let me say wow. This is so different. I don’t recall seeing a rainbow-colored water lily leaf like this ever. Quite distinctive. I suppose its the varying rates of decay causing it and who knew decay could be so prismatic?

The white lines don’t bother me.
I’m torn about the background. It looks like dust on my monitor. That bugs me. The fact that it isn’t dust on my monitor doesn’t but me, but feels out of place. I’d be interested in seeing a version with lighter water as to make the white specks less prominent.
The blue doesn’t bother me; it complements and reinforces the kaleidoscopic feel of the photo.

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@Kris_Smith, @Egídio_Leitão. @Donna_Callais and @Mike_Friel thanks for your kind comments and advice.

My apologize for taking too long time to respond, but it took me a while to finalize a rework. I tested different possibilities and finally decided to share one of them where the white parts has been deleted and the BG made black, but still keeping the stalk. The rework is posted at the top.

Kris, yes the different colord is due to the decay of the leaf.

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This is a stunning rework, Ola. Excellent work!

Nice job on the rework. Ola. Taking out the whites really made this image pop and I like the black BG, but I liked the other one too.

Wow! That rework is beyond category. Stunning.

Beautiful - love the rework, Ola.

Wow, Ola, this is such a neat image. I saw it a time or two but didn’t take the time to open and view. Really nice.

Ola: I’m very late to the party but the rework is a color junkie’s nirvana. Beautiful subject superbly rendered.>=))>

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@Kris_Smith, @Mike_Friel, @Donna_Callais and @Egídio_Leitão thanks for your response, glad you liked the rework.

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@Bill_Fach and @Shirley_Freeman thanks for yopur supportive comments, they are very much appreciated.

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@Kris_Smith and all moderators, thank you very much for the EP. As always, it is very much appreciated and inspire me to try to continue to grow and evolve both in the field and behind the computer.


Wow. The rework is amazing.

Thank you, @David_Bostock. I posted the original image since I was not fully sure how to finalize the image. Thanks to the good advice given here I decided upon the rework. NPN is really great!