Thrown back (Prairie river B&W)

Hey - my first post here and I’m a little nervous. This image is part of a larger photo project I’m doing on this river. My goal is to explore as much of it as I can. The Prairie is a tributary of the Wisconsin and runs about 40 miles from its headwaters which are a pair of lakes (I plan to take the kayak to them in the spring). A lot of the river is protected by our DNR and has many designated fishing and hunting access points so I think I can cover a lot of ground.

I’ve done a decade of this kind of work - fast water, long exposures, etc. and I’m worried I’m getting too static. So I want to try and get out of my rut sometimes. Sure, riverbank pictures are going to be similar because of what they are and how we have to shoot them, but there’s always room to stretch, right?

Specific Feedback Requested

So…what am I looking for from you? A read on the composition and balance of this shot and if it’s too overwhelming. Sometimes I think my wide shots are just that.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Panasonic Lumix G9
Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f2.8 lens at 12 mm (24mm for you old film folks)
f11, 8 seconds, ISO 200
Tripod (obvs)
Single image

Processed in Lr with increased contrast, texture and clarity. A bit of dodge and burning in the water and the ice to bring out texture. Also some lens correction because it’s so wide.

Welcome to NPN Kristen. There is no need to feel nervous, I think you will find critique at NPN to be very constructive and helpful, with an emphasis on helping others to learn. This is a fine first post, glad to see you decided to take the plunge.

This is a great subject for B&W, it allows you more latitude to push contrast, and frankly there probably is not a lot of interesting color in this winter scene to start with. The shutter speed used looks good, it creates a nice look in the water. I think your composition is well balanced, there is something of interest in all four quadrants of the image. As you alluded to, really wide compositions can be harder to pull off, sometimes they introduce too many elements that can become distractions, the chaos of woodland scenes some times makes it hard to avoid distractions. But I think you handled organizing this image very well, the branches in the lower left corner (LLC) had the potential to be a distraction, but your composition manages them well. So overall, great job on your first post :+1:

I have a couple of random things to think about. First, some folks prefer to compose streams with the water flowing towards the viewer. While that is a good general guideline, I think your image here works well with a downstream view. Second, here is an outside the box idea to consider. I like to consider sometimes flipping the image horizontal, in this case I think it helps to have a stronger left to right flow.

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Thanks for the welcome and the kind words. You’re right about there being not a lot of color in the scene. My first attempt at this had those branches poking out into the water and they were distracting so I moved the camera.

I like the image flipped. It’s a bit weird to look at for me since I was there and all, but it does present a stronger, more arresting shot. Hm. Something to consider.

Hi and welcome! A great first post. I agree with the comments made by Ed, and also want to emphasize the good spirit in this community when giving comments. Actually, I prefer the flipped image (however, a matter of personal taste!). Since you made the good composition choice to keep the branches in the LLC away from the water, the only thing that could distract somewhat is the rather messy tree line on the opposite side of the river. But that part is hard to get rid off!

Thanks Ola.
Yeah, whole forests are a little hard to make disappear. I’ve been known to hit them with an adjustment brush with the clarity or texture turned down. I may have done that here or just reduced the exposure there so your eyes don’t stray. Just a fact of life, huh?

Welcome aboard.

Very nice image, with nice contrast and a beautiful water flow.
If you don’t mind I like to suggest a crop - in this case to 5X4, to eliminate those branches on the LLC and to “smooth” the composition a little.

Welcome aboard and I am rather liking this post. I prefer it as posted. I like the way the water moves through the frame and the full frame version leads me way up and out and nicely leaves me wondering where it goes. No suggestions here, very well done.

Thanks gents. The tighter crop leads me to think I could go further and eliminate the far shoreline. In a series it would be pretty compelling. Thanks!

I’m planning to go back to this part of the river this week (weather provided) and so you’ll get your wish to see more, Harley. The side streams have all frozen solid so I should be able to cover more ground. There are no trails so I have to bushwhack, but am up for it.