Tidepool Anatomy + new version

This is an image I had shot with the D810 two years ago near Pescadero, CA but never posted anywhere because of DOF issues. Conditions were right a couple of days ago when I was in the area and I had another go at it. I had a heck of a time finding this spot. The area you see is only about 2 feet wide. After much searching I found it just about the time I was going to give up. I forgot to turn my CPL to off and shot previously with the polarizer but this last shot without the polarizer turned out to be my favorite. I have another composition of the same subject that I like equally so it was hard to decide which to post. I guess I’ll post that one later. I think it’s not a right or wrong situation but just how you feel about it that day.

Please let me know what you think of this. I took some liberties with the color in the direction that felt right. There are likely other possibilities.

GFX50R 32-64mm, focus stacked

Final version:



The flowing shapes are beautiful, with just enough contrast to keep the eye dancing for awhile to take it all in. I like the softly muted color direction you’ve taken it. I agree with your thought about lots of possibilities, and like it in black and white too.


I am finding my reaction to these two versions surprising. To my eye, the color version is not too engaging, but I cannot figure out quite why. Then I took a look at @John_Williams 's B&W rendition and it really works for me. Suddenly, it is a study in shape, shadow, tones and lines with a great feeling of mystery. A rather amazing transformation in my take on the image. I might clone out the dark kind of diagonal area top edge, just right of center, but really minor. Good one.

Igor, really like both versions but especially the original. Colori s muted nicely and I get a sense of motion from the image. Light is beautifully captured. The silkiness also really adds (did this come with processing or is this the nature of the stone?)

I did not make any modifications dealing with texture, clarity, or dehaze so it is not due to processing. This basically is weathered sandstone.

John’s version is really different from my intent. There is little mystery in the original. I changed the title to indicate that this was about organic forms. Sorry you didn’t like the colors. I have a warmer version but decided against it and make it more about shapes and form. I do like John’s rework very much though. This subject lends itself well to b&w.

I agree with Harley about B&W making this more of a study in shapes and forms, because the shadows define the shapes . For me, @John_Williams B&W version conveys more of a sense of organic forms than the color image does. The shadows in the B&W make it look more like folds of skin. In the essentially monochromatic color version, the shadows are so warm that they somewhat blend into the highlight areas, and for me the shapes have less definition than they do in B&W.

Another element that I prefer in the B&W is the dark pool of water. I think it’s darkness in the B&W image helps create more of a sense of depth, creating more separation between foreground and background. It becomes more important to the overall composition in the B&W version.

To be honest I don’t like critiques that consist of a replacement of a color image with a B&w. How is that helpful. They are totally different images in emotion and appearance. People who shoot b&w know this and shoot in that mode exclusively for that reason. How is critiquing a black and white going to help my color image? How would you feel if I converted one of your autumn images to b&w and said “here Ed, use this”. I’ve stopped such conversions long ago as a form of critique and suggest you do the same.

My deepest apologies Igor; I did not realize that and will remember that for the future! I respect, and will follow, your preference.

I suppose we all come at this from a different paradigm, so I can only speak for myself, but I appreciate all ideas no matter how different than my original intent; I absolutely don’t want that limitation on critiques of my images. I then feel free to take and leave as appropriate to what works best for me. As an example, this is a picture of flaming red Vine Maple leaves that for me (emphasis on “for me”) worked much better as a black and white. If I hadn’t thought of it myself I would have loved someone else suggesting it, even if I had originally been asking for color critique. …but that’s just how I roll, others have to walk their own walk and I will respect yours moving forward. :slightly_smiling_face:


Igor, while I tend to agree with you about commenters converting color to b&w (I think most of us here use color vs. b&w deliberately), it’s difficult to comment or know what to say when the poster simply asks what do you think (and opens up the options to other possibilities).

I’ll confess that I find it difficult to comment on your photos because I know you’re particular about tonality, color, etc., but I usually don’t know what you intend. That leaves me at a loss to comment other than about the general appearance and what I like/don’t like (and what I like/don’t like really is not relevant to your intention).

So, with this one, knowing you don’t want to consider b&w, I can say that the mood is somber and the forms are sensuous. The color looks fine to me (as a geologist, they look quite “real”). Is your intent to convey a somber emotion? If so, this works well. Although to be really somber, it could be cooled down some. If your intent was not to be somber, I feel it could use a bump up in exposure and maybe some of the lights. Cooling it also could bring out more depth because there would be a greater contrast between the warm & cool tones. I made those changes to check if they would work. If you want to see them, I’ll post the edits.


I too will no longer suggest or support a suggestion of a conversion for you, Igor. I did not mean to offend you in supporting the conversion of your image. It does bring into play a very slippery slope in terms of limiting suggestions. For example, if I suggest a much warmer or cooler version of your image, it brings in totally different emotions and appearance. Where do we draw the line of what or what NOT to suggest in your images? I don’t know what of my ideas or suggestions you might find helpful or find offensive. You have the option of ignoring any suggestion you do not find helpful, but by limiting input you might be creating a conundrum for both you and anyone posting (or thereby not posting) on your images. My thoughts anyway.


Wow. There has been some really good and thoughtful responses here.

I had decided a while ago that some of my critiques were really inappropriate in that I offered the creator something really different than what he intended. In fact, that had to do with one of your images @Harley_Goldman. Since then I have tried to understand what the image maker is trying to say and try to offer suggestions on how to say it better. Yes, @Bonnie_Lampley, making a warm image cool would be something that would go against the intent. Although, even here in this case I did the very same thing just days ago with Ashoka image. So I’m not consistent. But note that Adhika recognized it but did not use the suggestion. That tells me that it was too far off track to be useful to him.

I do agree with @Harley_Goldman’s observation that these suggestions are a continuum and it’s hard to draw the line where you’re following someone’s intent and where you are not. I have decided to no longer post b&w images as a form of critique. I see value in such a post in offering an alternative view but not as something to replace the original. I took John’s initial post as just that. I’ll leave it at that.

Oh I did want to add to @Bonnie_Lampley’s processing suggestion about lightening the image. I had tried that because I agree with out but did not like the results. The problem was that as I lightened some of the tonal richness was lost. The very thing that Mario refers as smoothness. I’ve had this issue before. The image becomes more contrasts and loses some of its beauty. So no, this image was not meant to be sad as I saw it. Maybe I’ll work on it some more. Perhaps I’ll find the magic formula.

I come at critique from the same philosophy as John Williams, as long as the suggestions are offered with some reasoning supporting their opinions. If the poster specifies up front what they do or don’t want for comments, then I will respect their wishes (but you did not do that in this case).

John’s use of B&W as an alternative led me to realize that I thought the almost monochromatic color in the original post affected the shadows in a way that did not define the shapes as much as I would like. Particularly if the intent was to portray organic forms. Seeing the B&W image helped clarify this comment on the color image for me. I did not offer an alternative suggestion on addressing this in the color image because I could not think of one.

Hopefully you would also explain why you thought it was stronger in B&W. If it improved the image, I would gladly take the suggestion. If it didn’t do something I liked, that’s okay too, I’d still thank you for offering suggestions. And IMO, critique comments are not always 100% for the benefit of the original poster, maybe it would inspire someone else reading the post to try a B&W conversion on an autumn image, ala Johns Vine Maple image.

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With all due respect i see John’s rework as considerably darkening the image in b&w. The shadows and mid tones have lost much of the definition they had and with them both texture and shapes. I see it as an interpretation of mystery with darks and accentuated highlights. It’s a valid interpretation and as I stated I do like it. I stated my thoughts on critiquing above. I actually think most people follow that. A totally different image out of the blue is mostly a curiosity piece.

Your original post is quite lovely and has some wonderful textures and details that really shine in the large version. This also has a wonderful arrangement of graceful lines that keep the eye engaged. I also like that pool of water as I feel it adds a lot to this intimate scene. I also like @John_Williams B&W conversion for it’s moody somber approach.

I am not trying to inflame things here, but I personally see nothing wrong with posting a B&W version of a post; as this is a critique forum; unless the author specifically asks not to. I know that I personally do not mind and always appreciate someone showing enough interest in my post to do a rework whether in B&W or color. I think if we have to keep a list of what a poster does not like in critques it will stifle the meaningful and helpful dialogue of NPN. Hopefully you do not take this the wrong way.

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I quite like it. Even though it’s a totally static subject, your composition gives a “flow” to the image. I think I would knock off a few points of yellow. Man, I would hate to fall down on that stuff. Looks like it would take some large patches of skin off. :crazy_face:

Not at all. I have decided how I approach a critique. I wouldn’t look at a @Bonnie_Lampley image and critique it the same way that I would one of Ed’s. I wouldn’t tell her to saturate her images because that’s not what they are about. I think everyone actually has that awareness actually. That’s pretty much what I’m talking about. I don’t think an author has to ask for certain critiques to be omitted. Yes, sometimes a very different solution will be incorporated by an author but if you examine such comments they do not become incorporated into the authors rework the vast majority of the time. Look at Kerry Gordon’s recent images. No critiques were incorporated except those that matched his own vision. He states it in the end! To me it’s a no brainer as to how to go about critiquing. What’s the value of posting a b&w and then comparing it’s merits with the color version. It’s apples and oranges.

Sorry to beat a dead horse.

:rofl: :rofl: I know what you mean. Some of the rocks I had to walk on to get to this spot were real slick. You never quite feel like you’re on solid ground. You just hope you keep the camera safe when you go down.

I agree. But I also think that if an author has strong opinions about what they want to convey, be it story or mood or whatever, it’s beneficial to commenters to know that. It takes a bit of time to make a thoughtful comment, and it makes it easier to have something to go on, besides simply aesthetics.


I think the following quote I made earlier is pretty much what I have to say on the subject. That’s my approach to critiquing and I have little further of significance to add to this.


I have made a slight adjustment in exposure as you suggested and posted up top for comparison. I think it does make the image more upbeat. What do you think?

To be honest I don’t think the original was very somber. At least not by my standards (lol). But I think everyone has their own worldview on emotion as well. As stated earlier this image was not intended to evoke strong emotions but a just an enjoyment of the sensual nature through lines and shapes.

I want to add my two cents to this conversation, not about the image (sorry, Igor) but about critiquing. In my view, the photographer posting the image has a responsibility that is specific to it being posted for critique. This isn’t a gallery show or a published book, it’s a critique forum and so I agree absolutely with @Bonnie_Lampley - if the poster wants an intelligent, meaningful critique it is their responsibility to share their intention. Otherwise, what can the reader say besides, “I like it” or “I don’t like it”, which is not a critique, it’s just an opinion, which I consider to be of little or no value. Then again, I can say, “If it were mine, I’d …” Also, in my opinion, useless for obvious reasons - it’s not my photograph and opinions, well, everyone’s got one. And, not to be rude or dismissive Igor, but I think that is the problem with this posting - without my knowing your intention, I really can’t say anything intelligent (although that may be an issue for me, in any case :wink:). I have to say, Igor, that I had the same experience you’re describing with a critique you offered recently of one of my photographs (the image of the little island/tree in the fog) where you cropped the picture by half as what you’d do with it. Like you, I was offended, until I realized that I really hadn’t stated my intention and so, instead of a critique I got an opinion. What I got back from you after my posting isn’t your responsibility, it’s mine. And to finish the story, your radical handling of my photograph, got me to really think about what my intention was - so I have to thank you for that, truly. Again, I hope this doesn’t feel like “piling on” to you, Igor. But this is a very important conversation that we should all be reflecting on if we want this forum to support our intention for helping each other to do the best work we are capable of - according to our own intention as artists.