Hidden Stream 1

Greetings! I have been meaning to dive in for sometime since joining almost a year ago. It’s been really educational reading through feedback on other images, and I’ve finally made the time to sit down and post myself.

This is a small scene I’ve been working on here and there since a trip to GSMNP last spring. I found this stream near one of my favorite trails in the park while hiking with my family and had to come back for another look in the morning before the light got too harsh. Any feedback is much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any is certainly welcome.

  • This was my first go at the technique that Alex Noriega discusses for removing distracting skies poking through the forest canopy in his Forest Haven tutorial. Thoughts on whether my execution is obvious and/or distracting. (This was done in the RUC)
  • Are the highlights in the water too bright? Realizing a there’s hefty dose of personal preference, thoughts on the amount of texture in the water?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Composition, of course. Does the image flow through from the foreground to the background falls coherently?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Fuji X-T2 with the 10-24mm at 14mm, f/13
It’s a focus stack/exposure blend of 5 images–3 for focus and two to blend in darker exposures for the lightest parts of the image.
Then, I cloned in the sky, dodged some of the moss on the rocks, and toned some of the shadows using the TK panel followed up by a little vignetting as well as spotlighting in the middle.

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You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.
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To my eye, composition looks good and I think the water looks allright, but as you say that’s personal preference. I would probably go over the URC just a little more. If you hadn’t mentioned it, most people would not see it, but you can see where you cloned from. Also, I would take a little cyan out of the image, especially in the water and clone a few of the red spots on the rocks. All in all, avery nice image.:vulcan_salute:

Adam, I’m glad that you decided to dive into critique here. While you can learn a lot from reading about others posts, the comments usually have more impact when they are about your own images.

Regarding the sky patch technique, overall this looks pretty good. If you zoom in close, I do notice some issues to the right of the center tree jutting out of the top edge. for web viewing its not noticeable, but if you intend to make a large print, I would try some cloning to remove the gray/green patches created by the technique.

In terms of composition, you have a significantly tilted “horizon” (look at the rocks above the small falls in the background), and I would level it. I find this happens to me a lot when I shoot verticals with a really wide focal length, and have to force myself to pay attention to it. I would also clone away the small twig or rock in the lower left corner, right at the frame edge, it is an eye magnet.

In terms of your whites, just below rocks in the center the blue channel is at 255, you are right on the edge of clipping the channel, I would pull the highlights back here a bit. otherwise the processing of the rocks, moss, trees, etc. looks pretty good to me.

Good to see you joining in Adam. This scene does have a nice flow front to back with the stream and the processing on the greens of the moss and surrounding forest looks great. I think the couple of suggestions that @Michael_Lowe and @Ed_McGuirk touched on would elevate this lovely scene another notch. The texture of the water looks just fine to me with the exception of the couple of areas that Ed mentioned. I sometimes clone in a little texture from surrounding areas of the water. Beautifully done.


I’m glad you decided to finally jump in for a critique. I think this image is beautiful - of course the downside is, that makes it harder to critique. This beautiful and I think with a very strong composition; this absolutely has a near/far flow and I love the texture in the water, especially as it fans out at the bottom. Sure, could play with adding some texture to some areas in the middle of the main flow, but really that’s not even necessary. and no, I don’t think the highlights are too much either.

I’m not familiar with Alex’s technique - and honestly, whatever you did worked great. Even though I’m told something has been cloned in the URC, I’m having a really hard time detecting anything. So hat’s off there. The good news too is that with a mass of chaotic vegetation in a forest like this, it’s a bit easier to disguise the cloning.

I’m going to respectfully disagree with my friend @Ed_McGuirk that this needs to be leveled. I look at the vertical nature of those small cascades Ed refers to, and I think gravity is a pretty good indicator with the vertical lines of the small cascades. The large slanted rock above - no way to tell and nothing to suggest that it’s supposed to be level. Sure, it makes things look tilted with the slanted rock, but even just viewing this with no references, it feels on the level to me.

Colors and processing are excellent. I do agree with Ed on the blues. And in fact in both the brigher whites as he points out, but also a little bit blue in the dark areas. I set a black pt. using TK’s Darks5 and that seems to work.

Lastly, there are a few, a number of, little tiny elements that could be cloned. The small rock/wood poking through the water near the lower left edge. There’s a white thing in the diagonal rock towards the left, mid-line. And a few other bright specs; and even perhaps some red ones Michael points out. But in an image like this with lots of leaf litter and forest debris, no need to spend any more time cloning little defects - maybe just the ones qualified enough to be labeled eye magnets… :wink:

Again, I think this is a beautiful image. Wonderfully composed and processed. All things mentioned here I would consider small tweaks to make a great image just that much better.

Looking forward to more along with your comments and participation.


This is a nice scene you found. I really like the four rocks in the foreground framing the whitewater. The water is a little bright for my taste, and I would especially experiment with darkening it further at the bottom edge of the frame to encourage your eye to travel up instead of down.

I think you did a good job cloning out the sky. Someone else already mentioned a small issue on the top edge to the right of the tree. This should be easy to fix with spot healing.

I also feel the frame is tilted a bit to the right but I would be worried about cutting out the moss on the right that would happen if you just rotated it. My suspicion is that the diagonal tree in the top center adds to the feeling of the frame being tilted a bit. In a perfect world it would probably be better if that tree were way over in the upper left corner instead of the center but that would have likely destroyed the rest of the composition.

The colors look really nice to me. The saturation looks great and I really love the green hue in the background foliage. It really communicates “spring time”. Nice work.

@Michael_Lowe, @Ed_McGuirk, @Ed_Lowe, @Lon_Overacker, and @Thorsten_Scheuermann, thank you for the thoughtful comments. I very much appreciate the feedback.

Michael, I tried to play with the cyans some. Actually, there’s not a lot of it in the photo. I suspect the cyan appearance comes from the Velvia film simulation used in the image. While I frequently desaturate it in my processing, I didn’t in this case. The super saturated bright greens seemed true to life by my recollection of the springtime scene.

To your and Ed’s comments about the sky cloning, I’ve taken another crack at it and think it turned out better the second time around. I’m also going to go back and play with healing and cloning of the trunk of the tree in the URC to see if I can get it a little more uniform looking. There’s a weird green artifact on the left side of the trunk, though that is probably only noticeable when pixel peeping than it would be when viewed at a normal distance.

Ed, thanks for pointing out the blue channel nearly clipping. That was a good way to look at it; I’ll keep that in mind in future water images. Targeting it helped tame the water a lot.

Lon, I’m sure Alex’s technique is done in some variation by others, but I saw it first in that tutorial. The gist of it 1) clone in a little of the chaotic foliage, 2) take a lights mask to select the sky (a lights from the blue channel works really well), 3) adjust the selection with a levels adjustment if needed to really target your selection, 4) paint in the areas on a layer mask you want to target the cloning to, 5) adjust the mask to expand the selection a little (I think I shifted the selection by about 25% in this image) and feather the selection a bit so it blends better. Basically, it’s using a luminosity mask to target the sky to clone out the distracting bright areas poking through the leaves. The most important bit is the shifting and feathering the mask in the mask properties so that it blends more smoothly.

I will play around with the pseudo-horizon formed by the rocks in the background. Maybe a little bit of warping to overcome the slant without making it look unnatural. That being said, I think that slant came from a bit of near-far perspective the rocks created as they go back to the little set of falls. I think I like the slant, but thanks for pointing it out. Not something I had noticed. Maybe I’ll like it better flattened out some.

Thank you all again for your comments. See you around the forums.