Hiding in plain sight w/recommended edits


Recommended edits (removed the flower and also burned down the right side of the upper wall and reduced contrast slightly overall)

As I was walking through one of the many Zion canyons, I noticed this little tiny maple or oak tree about 15 feet up on the side of the canyon wall. I had walked past this countless times and over a number of years and I had never noticed it before. What really peaked my interest is the tiny little flowering plant to the right of the tree. Most of Zions trees had already turned but this little tiny tree, about 2 or 3 feet across and maybe 2 feet tall was putting on it’s show of colors. I shot this wide open to try and blur most of the striated rocks to create less chaos and competition for this little tree.

Specific Feedback Requested

Was shooting this wide open the correct choice? I also cooled the background of this image quite a bit and I’m wondering what you think of the colors. The background cliff was competing a little too much with the color of the leaves so I cooled it down a bit.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Nikon Z7ii, Z 24-70mm f/4 lens, 1/3 sec @ f/4, ISO 64, 63mm I had to zoom almost all the way as this was up the cliff face quite a ways, maybe more like 30 feet.


Love this capture, David. The contrast between the hard diagonal lines of the rock formations in the background and the lovely yellow leaves on the tree in the foreground is fantastic! IMHO, you’ve gotten the background just soft enough while still retaining some detail. While the little tree in the foreground has plenty of details. Very nicely seen and captured.

Ah, you spotted such a great composition, David. I can’t decide if I like the slightly blurred BG. To my eyes, they are not out of focus enough to not compete but I also like the texture in the far wall… Great eyes, though and I think very nicely processed, David.

Maybe if it had been possible to shoot from a lower position the BG colour would have been darker (a bit like the FG), so not competing so much. But that’s an “if only”, and it would mean the tree would be less head on. So I think you got this about right, and it’s a really striking image. I love the flower.

@David_Haynes , the little tree really stands out and grabs my eye, which is what you wanted, so for me you got the depth of field just right. It has beautiful colors.

I think you’ve chosen just the right amount of softness for the background wall. Gorgeous lines and colours throughout the image. The little plant to the right is the icing on the cake.

Well seen, captured and processed.

Very nicely done, David. I like the shallower DOF, which adds to the isolation of the tree and flower. I rather like this one.

On my Utah trip over the last couple of weeks of October, I saw a whole lot of flowers in bloom. It felt like spring in that regard and it was an unusual blend of spring and fall as you have nicely portrayed here.

Based on those leaves, I’m pretty sure this is an oak. I have a million oak leaves in my yard at home right now, so the shape looks very familiar to me from my raking endeavors :grin:

I like having the oak tree centered in the composition, but the variation in the background keeps this from being too static a composition. The softness of the background looks just right to me. My only suggested tweak would be to burn down the luminosity of the middle section along the right edge.

I like this image very much. The tree has such a lovely shape and the leaves look as though they are backlit. I don’t know if they really are or it’s the result of processing. It doesn’t matter either way as their bright colors against that background is what makes this image. I probably would have used the full DOF and probably would have been wrong. It’s hard to say whether those bg lines would have complemented the tree or clashed with it, without seeing it. But I like the level of OOF this has versus a total blur because those lines do add a lot of interest. I don’t think I would change a thing. Well, I think the flower is unnecessary but everyone seems to like it. It just looks unnatural.

I also really like this image. The backlit oak leaves (can confirm @Ed_McGuirk ) are just right, and I think the DOF is also perfect. Enough focus to see the structure of the rock but no more than is necessary to keep the rock as the “backing vocalist”. I really like the contrast in the rock layers, especially with the darker grey rock below those golden leaves.

I do rather agree with @Igor_Doncov about the flower actually being unnecessary to the image; I also find it a bit distracting. But, no accounting for taste, huh?

Your DOF choice works very nicely here as it keeps the focus on that colorful oak tree. The colors in the scene look just fine to me and I like the striations in the rock as they add some visual interest. My only suggestion would be to ever so slightly tone down the lighter rock just to the right of the tree. I could take or leave the small flower, but the more I think about it I could see it being cloned out. How do you like the Z7? Just curious as I am contemplating purchasing one.

Thank you all for your comments and recommendations on this one. As @Igor_Doncov and @jefflafrenierre both mentioned, the flower was actually a distraction so I removed it and as @Ed_McGuirk recommended, I burned down the right side of the upper wall. I may have gone too far with the revision though. The leaves are backlit from the sun shining through an opening to the right of the image and I feel like I might have lost where the light source was coming from with my re-edit, hence going too far. Thoughts? It’s pretty big difference. At any rate, thanks for taking the time to comment.

Thanks for the suggestions Ed. See re-edit. I love the Z7ii. I owned the Z7 and find that the Z7ii is better at acquiring fast moving subjects (my 4 year grandson for instance) through eye detection which the original Z7 camera was pretty bad at but other than that the original is as good as the newer version but with only one card slot. It has great resolution for landscape photography and the Z lenses are VERY sharp. You can use the adaptor 9purchased separately) for older F mount lenses but I’ve read that most of the older f mount lenses don’t have the resolving power for the 47 megapixel sensor so you are better off buying the newer Z lenses. There is a noticeable difference. It took me almost a year to get one though as they had been backordered for a long time. They are easier to get now and I highly recommend it if you are already a Nikon shooter.

For my taste, I think you maybe took it a bit too far. I think part of the reason it looks like you are losing the light source is that you also brightened the shadow area in the ULC. This decreases contrast on the oak leaves, which I’m not sure helps.

Here is a rework where I started form your original, and darkened just the right-center a bit less than in your rework. Used a TK Lights 2 mask for this purpose, and then just masked it into the right center area only.

I definitely went too far @Ed_McGuirk . I think I was trying to even the background out instead of just trying to tone down the bright spot on the right. That’s why I lightened the ULC. Bad choice. Thanks for your work on this one. I really appreciate the work that went into it and it’s so much better than my repost. Thanks again.

The new adjustment on the right side makes the now brighter light near the light confusing and unnatural. This is a common problem with local adjustments in my opinion. Things can start to break down.

Excellent point, and it did breakdown in a big way. Not happy with what I got in my rework.

David, wonderful catch. I can’t add to the feedback you have already gotten.