The Vulture

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This is the second of three images from the walls of the Columbia River Gorge from a recent trip. I was striving for a bit of mystical in this one. Despite the fact that only a few burned tree remnants from the 2017 Eagle Creek fire are in the image, this is right in the area where large sections of forest burned. The clouds looked a bit like smoke to me when I took this.

I’m posting the main image as a black and white in keeping with the theme of the three images, but I also liked the color version of this one.

Specific Feedback

When I took this, I was capturing the smokey clouds, and didn’t notice the bird until I got home. Once I noticed, I decided just to run with it (and thus the title). Should I clone it out?

I played with a lot of contrast levels, eventually landing here as a balance between opaque and clear. How does that look to you?

Any comments and suggestions appreciated.

Technical Details

NIKKOR Z 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR at 200 mm
1/320 sec. at f/11.0 and ISO 800

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John, I love the misty and moody feel of this one. For some reason, I was drawn to the upper left corner of the color version. I hope you don’t mind, but I cropped a piece of it out in a portrait orientation. I love the way the light plays along the lines of the hills/ridges. I love how the mist drifts through the trees. Just a thought.


This is SO COOL!! I love broken fog like this!! You did a wonderful job bringing it out. And I love the composition with the trees and the hillside! I think I would consider burning down the brightest patch of fog at the bottom of the frame, or cropping a bit from the bottom.

I also love @Ed_Williams’ crop. I think the vulture is strong in it, but a bit small and off to the side for the wider crop.

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John, the b&w version has a good sense of abstraction, with the vulture as a pleasant surprise, (as in software cookies…). Ed Williams’ crop lets the vulture play a much stronger role. The color version feels more like an pleasant landscape, where I think you could crop to 4x5 on the right and get a balance between misty forest and soaring vulture.

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What an amazing photo! The detail within the fog is so cool. I could get lost looking at it, in a very good way. Excellent work.

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Another lovely image John. Great addition to the series. The contrast looks fine to me. The bird is a little close to the left edge but still a fine addition to the photo IMO. I also like @Ed_Williams crop. It makes the bird a much stronger part of the image and I like the strong diagonal of the hillside and the vertical lines of the tree trunks.

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Great image! I do prefer the color version and the crop by @Ed_Williams for the already-stated reasons.

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Thank you for the thoughts @Ed_Williams @Diane_Miller @Mark_Seaver @Judi_Hastings @Michael_Lowe and @Ronald_Murphy !

Not at all! I very much appreciate the idea. In addition, since I was at my maximum 200mm I can use it as ammo trying to talk SWMBO that I need a longer lens! (That new Nikon Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR is an interesting lens.)

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Tell her another SWMBO says everyone needs a longer lens! You knock stuff out of the park all the time but why not double the frequency?

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Very fine, John. Since the vulture is an important feature of this image, I much prefer the b&w version. I find the vulture gets lost in all the colour although on its own, the colour version is also quite beautiful. But for me, this image isn’t about the vulture it is about other worldly expansiveness. The relationship between the darkness and texture of the trees against the etherealness of the fog gives the picture a dream-like quality of enormous depth. I love that the vulture is near the edge of the frame. It is a bit of an Easter Egg but most importantly, once seen, it gives a dramatic sense of scale to the photograph. I’m sure you took many shots but I imagine one of the reasons you chose this one is how perfectly the vulture is situated and stands out against the fog. Beautifully executed.

Lovely image John. I think you had perfect conditions as the patches of fog give the viewer a wonderful glimpse into the trees; adding another dimension into the scene. You can’t go wrong with either version, but I am drawn to the color one. I also like @Ed_Williams crop as it makes the bird a little more prominent.

Sounds like the perfect time to approach SWMBO and explain your reasoning for that 28-400 Z lens. :laughing:


Fantastic photograph, and even though the vulture in your photo seems like an accident as opposed to the photo by @Michael_Lowe, don’t sell yourself short. I think this photo has a much more mystical feel to it than Michael’s (sorry Michael but I still like your photo as well :wink:). Now I also like the original color version as well, where the vulture does not play such an important
role. I especially like the bright green moss and brush at the top of the cliff, that seem to have vanished in the B&W conversion. I hope you do not mind, but I reprocessed it into B&W but created a mask targeting the greens in the brush and moss and brought some more luminosity to them in the B&W version.

@Youssef_Ismail , no need to apologize for your opinion. I happen to agree with it. John’s photo does have a more “mystical” feel to it. :metal:

Thank you @Kerry_Gordon @Ed_Williams and @Youssef_Ismail! I really appreciate the feedback. Thanks for the idea @Youssef_Ismail , I’ll play with that.