The patterns and shapes of uprooted trees always seem to grab my attention, and this tree along the Hudson River was no exception!

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • 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

My goal was for the tree to be the main focal point while also including a bit of the surrounding scenery in the background. I struggled a bit with composition, but ultimately landed on this one. I tried a landscape orientation as well but couldn’t back up far enough and there was a large scraggly bush to the right that took up too much of the frame. I actually needed to clone stamp out a few branches in the lower right for this portrait orientation as well. I’m thinking to revisit the scene and try using my 18-55m lens to better capture the top of the tree roots and get a lower aperture for better bokeh…

Much of the winter here is gray and overcast so there wasn’t much I could do with the sky. I’m tempted to make a black and white version of the photo, but I really love the colors of the wood in the tree roots!

Technical Details

ISO 80
1/250 sec
Single image, handheld, no filters used

Hi Jon! I can see where you were going with this image as those tree roots do have a lot of character. For me the BG is competing with the roots in this scene. Did you happen to capture any images by moving over to the right and shooting just the abstract patterns of the roots as I think they would make a wonderful subject. If not and you don’t live to far away from this location I would give that a try. This is just my opinion of course so take this with a grain of salt. BTW, I just noticed the B&W image in your portfolio and I have to say that it has a ton of mood. Excellent image.

1 Like


This old fallen tree and root system looks fascinating! Given your description I can understand there being some constraints on composition options. As presented, this works well in having the root system the primary subject, while a the same time providing context and location. This is the classic near/far composition. And again works well for capturing a location, the environs, etc. As presented, my suggestion might be to crop a good chunk off the top as the extra empty sky and top of root structure aren’t really adding to the story. I think you could crop down to the top of the clouds or just below the one bright root that is sticking out; about a 4x5 ratio. I suppose you could boost the color/sat in the reflected water - but that’s a personal choice - and something you wouldn’t want to take away from the fascinating roots.

To expand on Ed’s thoughts, if you are trying to really showcase the root system or create a nature abstract, I don’t think you need or may not even want to show any background. At least for me, nothing wrong in including the bg, but it does make the image about the location, not necessarily just about the roots; a standard near/far comp.

If you do get back, I’m guessing there are many options to explore really getting down to the root of what is attracting you… (couldn’t resist, pun intended!)

Thanks for sharing!


1 Like

I agree with @Ed_Lowe’s comments about the background. It’s presence confuses the statement you are trying to make with this image. Is it some monstrous object making its way across the beach towards the water? I would omit the bg entirely and work on an emotional statement of the roots.

Thank you for the feedback, Ed! I didn’t take a photo of just the root system, but I live close to the location and I’m definitely going to head back and create a more focused composition. The photos might actually pair well if displayed near each other - one with the environmental context and one of the abstract root system with its interesting patterns.

I also really appreciate the feedback on that B&W image. I had a ton of fun shooting that one and was excited about the final result!


Hi Lon! Firstly, I absolutely appreciate the root pun LOL! I’m going to play around with the crop as you recommended, but I’m also excited to get back over to the location and try a focused composition on the root system. The empty space in the sky is definitely throwing me off a bit, something the crop will certainly help with. I like that the photo is almost an environmental portrait of the root system and this will help to make the purpose of the photo more clear.

Thanks again for the helpful feedback,

Thanks, Igor. I’ll be heading back down to the location to try out that comp!