Why not smile

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Kayaking is a great source of joy in my life. Many of the waters I paddle are undeveloped or very lightly developed and I am lucky to be near so many. This is my favorite backwater of the Somo River and I literally spent 4 hours back here in various spots just absorbing nature and the tranquility of being on the water. When the clouds and blue sky reflect like this, I usually have the camera out and ready. These days I bring 2 bodies with me, one with the long tele on it and the other with the wide/normal zoom. To keep ripples at bay I don’t paddle, but drift with the current. I call these Simpsons clouds and they’re some of the most photogenic when out on the water. Especially when the breeze cooperates which it did here.

Specific Feedback

I took several views, but felt the treeline and water plants were more balanced in this one and not too visually heavy. The right side in particular with its deeper shadows, was particularly unbalancing if I included more of it. Ditto with too much water. Your thoughts are welcome…I can work on this one or post others for comparison.

Technical Details

Handheld in the kayak w/CPL but not turned on fully.


Lr for a bit of a crop and the usual raising of whites & shadows and reduction of highlights & blacks. Didn’t have to adjust exposure or white balance. Used the Point Color tool to raise luminance in the middle-greens. Masking to even out some luminosity top and bottom. A bit of sharpening, texture & clarity.

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I don’t do much by the way of critiquing, but here’s my 2 cents.

First, I want to start by saying how wonderful the image is, it reminds me of the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I’m from and spent the better part of my childhood and young adult years. So reminiscent of that area. Makes me want to pull up a kayak and join you.

When I first looked at this image I had my initial reaction. But when I came back to it (trying to figure out what I’m doing here again after a long time away lol) I saw this as a thumbnail and my eyes went right to the reflections, and I had a whole other reaction, I was blown away!

I don’t know how willing you are to try a heavy crop, but how about trying to crop off that left 1/3rd and concentrate your image featuring the clouds and their reflections on the right 2/3rds? Maybe just something to try out. I just love big puffy clouds and if they’re reflected in water, its like double your pleasure. :grin:

Otherwise I think the processing looks good, everything looks like it should to my eye. Very nice photo Kristen!

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Love it, Kris. It is the kind of image that “make me wish I was there!” Nicely seen, composed and captured! Great shot!

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Marvelous sky and refection, and perfect perspective. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Perfect title, Kris. I found myself smiling when I opened this one and it was hard to quit. It really conveys the feel of being on a peaceful wilderness lake on a gorgeous day. I’ve been spending some time looking at this and I really can’t recommend any changes. It’s just a very satisfying image and the composition really works well for me. Very subtle leading lines, but they all go to the same vanishing point.

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Kris: I Sooooo envy your kayaking experience. I have wanted one for a long time but we have zero space in our garage to store one so I continue to do without :face_exhaling:. So it goes. Great sky and the reflections are the icing on a very fine cake. Well seen and captured. >=))>

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Thanks @Barbara_Livieri, @SandyR-B, @linda_mellor, @Dennis_Plank & @Bill_Fach - I’m so glad the bright sun and high contrast doesn’t deter anyone. Full sun and high noon isn’t the best for making many landscapes, but paddling and bad weather just don’t go together well so sun is what you get with this kayaker.

Funny @Barbara_Livieri - this is in northern Wisconsin! I live in Lincoln county and this was shot on the Somo River that feeds into the Wisconsin at around the same point as the Tomahawk river does. Where did you live? Vilas or Oneida counties? I paddle there, too. So spoiled for choice up here. Since you put the idea of a more cloud-intense image out there, here’s a shot I edited yesterday -

Same place and just minutes from the other, but a different feel for sure. Days like these are precious during the month of summer we get. Unfortunately it’s going to be thunderstormy here until later this week, but hopefully then I’ll get up the Prairie River headwaters which is a pair of lakes. I had to abort my mission last week because I found an injured Pine Warbler that I ran over to the wildlife rehab place I volunteer for.

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That’s too funny! For some reason I thought Somo was in northern California. I had never heard of the Somo River. How about that.

However, I didn’t live there (grew up in Fond du Lac), we had a cabin in Oneida County, just outside of the town of Lake Tomahawk on Hodstradt Lake. My dad and his buddy built a hunting cabin back in the mid 60s. Of course they both married had kids and both of our families went there for holiday weekends, vacations, whenever. After my dad retired he didn’t spend much time up there so he sold his half to his friend and now their son owns it, but we’re always invited to spend time up there.
But I’ve always said, northern Wisconsin is an untapped wonder for nature photography. Shhhh. lol I’ll be back this fall for my niece’s wedding. Hoping to get up north for a day or two for some foliage, if there is any.

Small world! That lake is up by the Rainbow Flowage and I’ve been meaning to get back up there, so thanks for the reminder. There’s an eagle pair I’ve photographed there and their kid. Quite easy to do since the nest is right on the shoreline. It is a wonderland up this way, that’s for sure. Glad you still come now and then. Hope you find foliage when you do. Usually it’s late September/early October for the best of it, but this has been a weird year for weather so who knows. If you want to meet up, give me a shout.

Yep, not far from Rainbow Flowage. The wedding is Oct. 5th so fingers crossed! And if I do make it up there, I’ll let you know. Thanks!

Kris, this is a lovely, peaceful inviting view. Hang it, look up and go ahhhhh!

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