Being Present

I was struck by how long this woman sat at the top of this hill in the Kerlingarfjoll area. She was clearly taking it in and being present.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Anything you notice…

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Does the composition work? I wanted the many lines to the mountain to be part of the meaning, but I also wanted her to be central. Is she too centered, or is top-placement working to create that sense of all roads leading “here.”

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Single image with exposure/contrast adjustments in LR.

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I like all of the diagonals in the scene and the processing looks great. IMO the woman is to small in the frame as I initially it was a rock on top of the hill. I personally would clone her out, but that is just my opinion. I also think that the mist is a wonderful element and adds some nice mood to the image. Great light too, BTW.


Excellent photograph. Very strong composition that captures both the natural, geo-thermal layout and activities, but also the human interaction with the land; including the paths, steps, bridge - and the woman. Although like Ed, the person isn’t really identifiable as a human, let alone whether they’re a man or woman. I think this is a case where the experience of being there, watching this unfold and simply observing the woman’s behavior - and I’ll bet wonderment… is a difficult thing to translate in a static photograph. All the human elements - the bridge, path, steps leading to the top of the rise all lead to concluding it might be a person.

Regardless of the woman’s presence, this is beautifully composed and photographed. I especially like the curve of the stream at the bottom anchoring the scene. The geo-thermal activity is clear and this is just a great all around image, capturing the essence of the place.


Thanks Ed and Lon. I am sharing a slightly tighter crop (just a tish off the left and top even less off the right) with a little more detail as well in the human form (lifted shadows a bit so we can see different colors). Let me know if this is better, or … whether the ambiguity in the preceding version was actually more interesting and the bridge and steam on the right and left need more space.


Marylynne, personally I prefer the original. In this cropped version the escaping, venting steam is reduced on the left which I think is one of the main parts of this story. Also, I think your personal connection to the presence of the woman just isn’t connecting to me as the viewer; in terms of scale or recognizability that it’s even a person; it could be a cairn or pile of stones. Even still, it doesn’t diminish that this is a wonderful image - oh, and forgot to mention the dappled light on the mixed earth tones is beautiful as well.


Thanks Lon. I felt like the original had more mystery too.

I think this is a very good example of how our own interpretation of a scene can be wildly different from that of a viewer. When we have direct experience and we shape an image to highlight that intention in ourselves, we get it. We know what the image is about and what we want to say. Now, regardless of how articulate we are, bearing in mind a very limited vocabulary, the vast majority of our nuanced narrative will be lost on the viewer. We may photograph a rainbow and be filled with hope and love, whereas the viewer may have just lost a loved one and be terribly sad, thin king of their parting.

We have virtually no control over explicit articulation of intent.

What we have is Colour, luminosity, contrast, atmosphere and geometry.

In this regard, your image works, the lines, the steam, the sense of place and dynamics. Your lady in the moment is lost, as it is not explicit. As others have said, it could equally be a pile of rocks on the summit.

To tell a story well, requires the key elements to be identifiable and clear.

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Thanks, Alister. I think you hit the nail on the head…it’s working as a landscape, but the story is lost in the perspective.