Above and Below



Specific Feedback Requested

I’ve been so absorbed in post processing all the more Romantic landscapes I took from last summer, I completely forgot about the literally thousands of more intimate photographs I also took. I decided I needed to roll up my sleeves and get started with this image and would really appreciate some feedback. I am less familiar and confident working from this more intimate perspective so, I’d be interested as to whether this image has any emotional or aesthetic impact or appeal for you. I would also be interested in any technical feedback – colour, texture, composition, and so on.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No

This picture has me wondering whether I have done enough with it. David Kingham recently gave me a heads up that DoX PureRaw finally released an upgrade that supports Fuji X-Trans cameras. I thought I’d give the 30-day free trial a go. I was pretty much blown away in how it completely cleans up noise and the dreaded Fuji worms, while significantly but subtly boosting sharpness. For this image, at least, there is no contest between Lightroom Enhance plus sharpening/noise reduction and DoX. After running this image through the converter there was almost nothing left to do, and I’m not used to that. I guess I come from the “no pain, no gain” school of post-processing. This isn’t that technically challenging an image and maybe DoX won’t work as well on everything but so far I’m super impressed with the results.


Absolutely stunning Kerry! The perfectly glassy water is so calming and peaceful, and contrasted against the highly detailed rock is just perfection. The colors, the tones, all look great to me. Glad you’re enjoying that software, I’ve become a huge fan!

I really love this one Kerry.
The composition is very nice, so are the subtle colors.
For me, the “punctum” are both the black reflection and the clear water where the rock meet the water.

1 Like

Kerry, the composition is wonderful. I love the intimacy and feeling of small scene. I also like the reflection of the sky in the water, while still retaining some sense of the rock underneath the water. It has a cool feel white balance wise. I downloaded it and hit it with a color balance that warmed it up a bit…It’s a personal taste of course, but here’s the warmer version…

Not sure it works, but it feels a bit more earthy…


1 Like

I’m really fond of such creations. I’ve started calling ‘two world compositions’. On the one hand there’s reality of a protruding rock and on the other there’s a shape in a square with a diffused background. I think it’s a modern composition that one would have never encountered before the 20th century. Some of the images of tree reflections that also show the world beneath the surface also have this same duality. The question is does the shape conjure up any thoughts in the viewer. I have to be longer with it to say that but just the way it arouses one’s curiosity is a good thing in my book. I think I like what the suggested WB does to the image.

Yes, there is a sense that the surface rock is somehow detached and isolated from the rest. I don’t know how else to put it.



So glad you pulled this out to work on and share! I absolutely works, I love this. First two impression - the rock above the water appears as a mountain island to me - like this is an aerial view of an island in the sea - with the added bonus of having the depths of the sea visible all around. Speaking of that part, my only wish is that there was a slightly wider view all the way around just to accentuate the “depths”.

Processing looks great to me. I can’t suggest much of anything. Very impressive capture.


@David_Kingham - Your very positive feedback is much appreciated as was your pointing me towards DoX. Thanks again.
@joaoquintela - Punctum. Now there’s a word I haven’t run into before, and a good one! I looked it up and it perfectly captures what I was hoping for from this picture - “the sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow”. Well that might be a bit grandiose with regards to this picture but I have to say my favourite element in this image is much like yours, Joao, that very fine line along the upper right edge of the rock’s face that splits the shadow from the reflection - the “sweet edge”. I am indebted to you for “punctum” :grin:
@David_Bostock - thanks for you thoughtful feedback, David. I personally like the deep blue as, for me at least, it lends more of a feel of coolness, depth, and perhaps mystery. However, your suggestion put a bug in my ear and I thought maybe a little split toning might be worth a try. I have posted the Rework above. The difference is subtle but, I think, an improvement as it further adds to the contrast between the above and the below. Thanks again.
@Igor_Doncov - I think we’ll have to get together one day over a shot of something - tequilla?! - and just plain talk. - about art and artists and why it matters! As you can see I did follow up on David B’s suggestion … sort of. Better? And what do you think about “punctum” as a descriptor?

Kerry, I think your rework is fantastic. Well done indeed.

I honestly never heard of the word. The dictionary suggests it’s mostly used in medicine. I think Joao meant that the abrupt edge of shadow to fluid is “the heart of the matter”? I suppose it is the most interesting area in the image.

As I stated the most intriguing aspect of the image is how the ‘object’ seems to be suspended in space. There’s an irrationality about it which gives the image a mystery. I don’t have access to a computer but if I did I would try to lighten the water to emphasize discrepancy between the two. Don’t know how that would work.

Btw I prefer the original to the rework.

I am with @Igor_Doncov that I prefer the color in the original, Kerry. This image is very enjoyable. It holds me. I have no nit about the original at all.

@Kerry_Gordon and @Igor_Doncov;
From Wikipedia -
" Camera Lucida (French: La chambre claire) is a short book published in 1980 by the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes. It is simultaneously an inquiry into the nature and essence of photography and a eulogy to Barthes’ late mother. The book investigates the effects of photography on the spectator (as distinct from the photographer, and also from the object photographed, which Barthes calls the “spectrum”).

In a deeply personal discussion of the lasting emotional effect of certain photographs, Barthes considers photography as asymbolic, irreducible to the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind. The book develops the twin concepts of studium and punctum: studium denoting the cultural, linguistic, and political interpretation of a photograph, punctum denoting the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it.

Camera Lucida consists of 48 chapters divided into two parts. The novel is composed in free form and does not follow a particularly rigid structure. Barthes does not present a fixed thesis, but instead, highlights the evolution of his thought process as the novel unfolds. As such, he consistently returns to ideas expressed in previous chapters to complete them, or even deny them. The story becomes increasingly personal in the second half, as scientific terminology, precise vocabulary, and numerous scholarly and cultural references give way to increasingly subjective and intimate language. The book is illustrated by 25 photographs, old and contemporary, chosen by the author. Among them are the works of famous photographers such as William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe and Nadar, in addition to a photograph from Barthe’s private collection.

1 Like

Oh, very nice! I love both versions. The contrast of the rock’s texture with the smooth water and submerged rock is wonderful. For me, I would have liked more space around the main rock. It feels just a tad large in the frame. Not sure why, but maybe because the overall mood is calm, but the main rock feels sort of in-your-face large. But, that’s just me.

And I, too, love the line of the interface between rock and water. The emotional appeal for me (the punctum, I suppose) , is the dichotomy between the exposed and explicit part of the rock above the water vs. the partially hidden and indistinct submerged parts - the face we put out to the world vs. our more private side.

WRT punctum, the idea of punctum as it relates to photography was put forth by Roland Barthes in a small publication called “Camera Lucida”. Barthes was (from the interwebs) “… a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician. Barthes’ ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, design theory, anthropology, and post-structuralism.”

In Camera Lucida, Barthes (again from the interwebs) “… develops two contrasting concepts that describe the experience of observing photography - studio and punctum: the studio indicates the cultural, linguistic and political interpretation that the observer makes, while the punctuation indicates a personal touch, a stab, that a particular detail in photography evokes in the relationship between the observer and the photograph.”

If anyone wants to read Camera Lucida, here is a link to a pdf (I confess to finding it rather tedious, but it is considered a major philosophical writing of 20th century photography):

Thanks to everyone for this thoughtful & considered discussion. I have enjoyed reading it.
And a great shot Kerry

1 Like

@Adhika_Lie - Thanks so much, Adhika. After sitting with it for a while, I agree with you and Igor to stick with the original cooler colour cast.
@Bonnie_Lampley - As always, Bonnie, your feedback is much appreciated, especially your ruminations on what your feel and why. And thanks for your added info on “punctum” - a fascinating concept.
@Ryan - Thanks, Ryan, and, yes an illuminating conversation, indeed.

Kerry…I believe all has already been said as I am very late to the party here. Been away on a photography trip for a couple of weeks and was very isolated. However, I have to say how much I like this image and how different it is from your usual images. I hope you post more of these intimate shots as I think you nailed this one. I prefer your original post.

@David_Haynes - Where did you go on your trip? Isolated sounds intriguing. I can’t wait to see some of what you’ve brought back with you.
This kind of intimate image is more in the direction I’d like to take my photography, at least in terms of landscape photography. I have a pretty big file, more than a thousand frames of this sort from last summer that I just started getting into. I think there are a few more worth taking some time with.
And, yes, in the end I prefer the original version with the cooler blue cast as well.

I’m just seeing this now Kerry, Sorry. I spent 3 days in and around the Capitol Reef area in Uta, about 3 days in Zion, and 3 days in Death Valley. I had no cell service at any of the locations except at the hotel. It was kind of nice. I’m starting to post now as I’ve been going through my images. Some intimate, some not. :slight_smile:

I’m late to the party, but would vote for the original…there is just a little more colour and detail whereas the second seems a wee cloudy to me. But overall this is fantastic as all have said - it is incredible how much depth and impact there is in such a small isolated object. Was fun to read the thread.