Withered and Wild

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


This was my first time wandering through the mesquite forest, along the Salt River in Arizona, for the purpose of photographing the forest and not the wildlife or individual trees. This forest is dense in places and chaotic everywhere with multiple trails left by the wild horses that it nourishes and shelters.

This is definitely a “Go Slow” place. The wildlife here is abundant and can be scary with rattlesnakes, mountain lions and wild stallions around. Constant awareness is key, for more than finding good images.

Mesquite trees can grow in very unusual and random patterns, which adds to the eeriness and intrigue of this forest. I love it!

I will be spending a lot more time here as it is close to my home, 20 minutes, and every turn of head, light change, and season change presents something different or new.

Specific Feedback

Any comments are welcome, composition choice, color…

Next time I will bring my tripod. I always go with at least a monopod, as much for probing for snakes as stabilization. It also is more mobile if horses are around. But this morning the sky was over cast and I think the stability would have improved focusing. Focus is also a challenge, for me, as I haven’t done focus stacking. So choosing the right focal plane and depth of field in this environment is tricky.

Technical Details

Nikon D850
Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8, at 32 mm
1/13 sec, f/22, ISO 1600
LR editing exposure, color, sharpening


This looks like a fascinating area to photograph and explore and being close to home makes it even better. Wonderful story and I like your framing with the three trees. My only suggestion would be a little crop from the top to get rid of the bright sky and just a little from the left to get rid of the notch between the tree and a limb about the middle of the left edge. Nicely done.

Thanks @Ed_Lowe, This forest really is surprisingly rich with potential. Like most places it took slowing down and exploring with purpose to see how diverse it is.

I cropped the image as you suggested and I do think it helped with the feel of being in that place rather than just looking at it. Thank You. I also took out the small tree trunk to the left and below the tree on the left, as it became more distracting, plus I hadn’t noticed it before.

I picked this image, after looking at several when I got home, because for me it had that spooky feel and I kept thinking about the 3 Witches from Macbeth. The image title comes from the Banquo’s description of them, I had to look that up!

Here is the cropped version.

Thanks again.

Marlin, I think the crop strengthens the image. The twisted shapes of the trees add tension to the composition. I notice the trees, but the bright golden hues of the dead grass keep demanding my attention. That may be what you wish us to see. However, I wonder if giving the green foliage more punch would provide greater importance to the top half of the picture. That is just my take on a fascinating location. Thanks for sharing this picture with us.

Thank you @Barbara_Djordjevic for the review, comments and suggestion. I do like the effect the crop created. I do want the trees to be the focus and I think the grass helps emphasize that. I will try some changes in the top half, but I tried to keep that area subdued, to not take away from the trees. I am not sure what more puch would look like, contrast, color, brightness? What would you do/suggest, still a novice at postprocessing.

As a beginning, I would let Lightroom make the auto changes. After auto modifications, more dark hues are clipping, so I would move the black slider to -1. Now is the time to play with masks and vibrance and saturation. I am no expert on using masks in Lightroom. I use Photoshop and the TK9 masks to manage the colors. I have been playing with your photo, and my computer "chocked "up, and I had to stop. I’ll see what I can do to show you a taste of what I mean.