Water Lily

A revised version with the “horizon” level!

The original version. I am ashamed of myself.

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


I love water lilies and have been shooting some recently at Sonoma Botanical Garden. I was attracted to this one by the water accumulated on the leaf.

Specific Feedback

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 7.51.45 AM

Minor global adjustments in LR, focus stack in Zerene, into PS for a little cleanup on the leaves. Slight crop.


Lilies are popular with this week’s theme! I never see them on ponds, but lakes and rivers, but they always make me smile. These are lovely - we don’t have yellow or pink, only white up this way. The composition is killer - I love the leaf with the water and the flower just above. Not how most folks would put this together and it works quite well. I also like all the surface tension around the leaves. Great for the many insects that feed here and pollinate them. Great light and textures. Not sure what I’d do to improve. Pretty fab.

Beautiful job on this water lily, Diane. I really like the way you included the surrounding vegetation and that pool of water is great.

Thanks, @_Kris and @Dennis_Plank! I didn’t see it until I posted it here – the water puddle is clearly not level. (And I try to watch the level in the viewfinder…) A corrected version posted above, and I need to resign my position with the Level Horizon Police, in disgrace.

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Well, it does look more level, but the cuvature of the leaf makes it awfully difficult to pick a true level line.

True, about true, @Dennis_Plank. It comes down to ESP and what looks best.

This is lovely. The water puddle inside the leaf is the perfect size and reflects the light beautifully. I’m curious if you used a polarizer on the lens to get that beautiful rim reflection, or if that’s the way it looked.

Thanks, @joe16! I don’t think so – it was a recent shoot and I would probably remember putting it on and fiddling with it. The puddle caught my eye so I’m pretty sure this was the straight look.

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This is a wonderful intimate water lily image, Diane. I probably would not have noticed the puddle of water not being level, but now that it is out there I do prefer your revision with it corrected. The water tension around the pads is a nice touch and adds a lot to the scene. Beautifully done!

Thanks, @Ed_Lowe – I didn’t notice it either until I posted it here and saw it in a different context. Working on it basically full-screen on a large monitor I didn’t see it! An example of how our brains make visual corrections for us.