Water Chaos

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


It was an overcast day at the coast. Originally we wanted to photograph high waves.

But then a few rocks caught my attention, washed by the waves. So I played with different shutter speeds.

Specific Feedback

Any feedback is welcome!

Technical Details

I combined two exposures here to add some water streaks at the upper part of the rocks.
LR for basic adjustments, additionally some texture, clarity and dehaze. Some contrast work in PS (including TK Lights Triple Play).


Hi Jens, This is super gorgeous! I couldn’t think of anything to improve.

It will be interesting to see what Tony Sweet can suggest :grinning:

What Laura said! I have no critique - this is gorgeous. The shutter speed you chose made for truly interesting patterns.

Very nice timing on the water! When I first looked at the image without reading your description, I wondered why some of the water appeared sharper, then read that you blended two images. Did you hand blend with a brush on a mask in areas you wanted sharper water?

@LauraEmerson, @Bonnie_Lampley, @HarveyAbernathey
Thank you very much for your feedback and your kind comments.

Yes, I blended the layers with a brush (no luminosity mask). But the shots were taken with the same shutter speed in the same burst-mode sequence within seconds. Which areas stand out in this regard in your opinion? Maybe I added too much contrast there.

Beautiful capture! I think the blending in at the upper part really adds to the dynamism of the scene! I can really feel the chaos of the water! Spectacular; I can’t think of any improvements!

Hi Jens,

Looking at your beautiful image again today, the flat black rock in the ULC is a strong anchor point, so the brightness of the rock in the very top of the ULC adds to to the pull perhaps a bit too much.

Here’s a quick brush job in PS:

Don’t know what you think?

BTW, the flat black rock in the ULC is what makes this composition excellent IMO, in that it provides a break in the flowing patterns. The static flat rock and rapid liquid flows enhance each other by contrast.

@Julia_Hallee, @LauraEmerson
Thank you very much for your feedback. I appreciate that very much.

Thank you very much for pointing that out. I agree with you and I really like your subtle edit.
Btw, this image here was shot with the exact same tripod position and camera settings as this: Water on the rocks + Repost
I just rotated the last mentioned 90 degrees. It’s interesting how water can change a scene within seconds.

Hi Jens: Image impact - The most striking thing about this image is the strong contrast, not unlike a chiaroscuro pattern (basically alternating black and white). This is definitely an image for bracketing exposures from long (30 secs +/-) to short (1/60 sec +/-), although with this type of movement, shorter exposures can show the power and speed of the flow. I also like how the water enters the frame from both sides , all converging at the bottom and exiting the frame. There are many ways to smooth the water if it’s a bit too active. An easy way is to reduce clarity to about -40. It’s not dramatic, but does reduce some of the confusing intersections on the table area. I would be shooting this for at least an hour. Great subject!

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Very interesting, indeed! Thanks for mentioning that. BTW , you did a good job combining the exposures!

Hi Jens,

This is so interesting and just plain cool! :slight_smile:

One of the most interesting things about it is the rich black rock, it’s almost like coal in that it’s pure black.
The other thing is the flow of water, it’s not the typical waterflow that we’re so used to seeing. I see where you mention that this was ‘washed by the waves’ so I assume that the water is ‘backflow’ from where the wave hits it and this is the outflow or draining part of the cycle between waves?
That would explain why some parts appear to have water coming right out of the rock itself rather than water flowing across it from a source above.

I like the water coming from the left, center and right, then converging at the lower portion of the frame. The water at the bottom is pleasantly chaotic (churning?), it’s going in all directions at the same time.

I ‘really’ like the clean look created by the black rock and white water, so for me it’s a very vibrant B&W image without having been converted to B&W (it wasn’t converted to B&W was it?).

It would seem kind of tough to choose the right shutter speed since the water is flowing at different speeds (depending on what stage this was shot at) (and if I’m correct about this being backflow from crashing waves).
I’m probably the only one to not know the story about the water flow, it’s probably obvious to everyone else :roll_eyes:

At any rate, this is really interesting and very appealing!
I bet this would look awesome printed on aluminum.

Well done! :slight_smile:


Hi Tony,
thank you very much for taking the time and offer the guest critique here on NPN!

Thank you for pointing that out. I played around with your idea and ended up with masking in the reduced clarity on some water parts of the image.

Me too. I quickly forget the time when shooting such scenes.


Thank you very much for your feedback and kind words.

You really have an eagle eye, Merv :slight_smile:
It’s exactly like you described. “backflow” of waves is a good term for that.
It was very funny to shoot it… the rocks were the same all the time (of course). But each wave was different, so the same shutter speed had very different effects on the various shots.

Yes, you are right. I didn’t convert it to b&w.

Thanks for the confirmation, Jens! :slight_smile:
I could see myself spending an unusual amount of time capturing many images at different stages of backflow just to see how many different effects it might produce and I imagine that you did that very thing.

I’m really enjoying the reveal of Iceland through your lens and personal perspective. :slight_smile:

Very well done, Jens! :slight_smile:

Thanks again!

P.S. I like your rework image as suggested by Tony!

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You are welcome Merv! :slight_smile:
I enjoy your thoughtful comments very much!

BTW, these shots were taken on the island of Madeira.

Eh… close enough, there’s only 3,500 km and 32° between them :roll_eyes:

Seriously though, thanks for the correction :smiley:

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Never mind. This picture could have been taken anywhere where there are rocks and waves. :joy:

You’re very welcome. It’s always a pleasure viewing others’ work!

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