Liquid spring + alt. crop & original aspect ratio

Here is a 16:10 crop which is narrower than the 2:3 -

The original uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio (with the rock in the path) -

For my latest visit to the Prairie River yesterday, I had more oblique images in mind. How you would see or encounter the river as you walk beside it or approach it from the woods. Because it’s a wild river and the rudimentary trails are not maintained, it’s a challenge to find a large enough opening, but I found this one. I positioned behind the trail on a slight hillock and framed the shot with these trees. I got lucky that there is something of interest on the opposite bank. Thick, fast-moving clouds came in and out and filtered the light enough to soften it, but not eliminate the dappling.

Specific Feedback Requested

I dithered over the crop, the contrast and the greens. There is more trail and a small rock that I removed since I didn’t think it added anything, but if you want to see it, I can post. I didn’t want the blacks too blocked up, but wonder if this softer contrast works for other folks. Last the greens - SOOC they were SUPER green and IRL they were, but I took them down quite a bit. Too much?

Technical Details

Tripod with CPL


Initial RAW work in Lightroom starting with a Linear Profile to produce a relatively flat file to recover as much shadow and highlight detail as possible. Some lens correction, sharpening and a bit of transform. Photoshop for heavy work to sculpt the light and manage the color saturation. Used a variety of masks for each adjustment layer - zone, luminosity and color. If anyone wants to see the layer stack let me know.

This image has a really pleasing feel to it, so nicely done. I think the only thing I would do is think about cropping some of that foreground as I don’t think it adds much and distracts from the other great aspects of the photo.

Wow, Kris. This is so peaceful. I love the mood, the colors, the feel. I agree with @Matt_Payne that you could lose a bit of the foreground, turn this into a pano and have the river be so much more prominent. Well done!

Thanks @Matt_Payne & @David_Bostock - I’ve put a 2nd crop up in the OP. Seems like that does work better. Thanks!


I like the 16:9 crop, also. It accentuates the flow of the river through the scene. The greens look perfect. I wouldn’t have known you knocked them back at all.

1 Like


This is just lovely; quiet and calming. I think you found and captured the “window of opportunity” (silly pun) perfectly along your walk. So inviting this is.

Outstanding job with the colors and processing. Especially well done is you’ve got just the right amount of luminosity in the shade-side of the foreground trees; darker, but yet plenty of texture and detail. Well done with the colors and sat too!

I like both versions equally. But I’ll pull out my inner Igor and suggest that the two versions portray a different impressions for me. The first is more open, inviting and while subtle, the dappled light in the foreground, around the path and throughout, I think is better showcased and the light in general is featured better, I think, in your original. The cropped version feels more like a “picture perfect” window or postcard scene. And that is not meant as a negative, but literally I get the impression it’s just a lovely view out the window; a postcard view of a beautiful place; a scene that I take in as a whole, rather than by their elements. If that makes sense.

Both are beautiful and have their own merits and stories. at least for me.


This says Spring so well for me. I think it’s the fresh greens and the dappled light you get in Spring before the harsh light of the summer. This image makes me feel as though I’m enjoying a walk along the riverbank. Since I’ve done this so many times over the years it brings back good memories and warms my heart. There is no better way to spend the day. Thank you for that.

PS. Either crop works for me but I tend to usually prefer the 4x5 aspect ratio so the original is ever so slightly better for me. In terms of composition the crop doesn’t change much for me.

Thanks @Bonnie_Lampley, @Lon_Overacker & @Igor_Doncov - I’m so glad this resonates with you.

Lon, your words about inviting and not feeling like it’s a showcase is partly what drew me to the original composition. I wanted you to see how the light changes as you approach the river and how irresistible it is. That you are stepping into another scene from the one you’re standing in. I’m not sure the crops convey that. Thanks also on noticing the luminosity work I put in with the foreground elements. It’s a hemlock forest so pretty dense canopy all the time and it’s magical under there, but also our eyes adjust so rapidly it doesn’t feel dim or spooky. At least not to me.

Not only did we get your inner Igor, but we got the real thing! I’m glad it was a good trip down memory lane for you. Maybe you’ll prefer the original 4:3 aspect ratio - see the OP.

I would go 16x9 and lose more of the man made dirt path. Crop to just the bottom of the nice ferns at the base of the tree is more pleasing to me.

Thanks @Dan_Kearl - that’s the interesting thing about scenes like this - everyone sees a different way to interpret it. Thanks for chiming in.

I agree, it feels a lot better!

I believe I like the 2:3 crop the best as it has the prefect amount of trail leading into the scene without being cut off. The framing is really nice using the trees on both sides of the image. I really like the scene that you’ve framed. The light hitting the downed logs, the broken and bent nature of those logs, the grouping of trees just behind the logs with that gracefully arching tree that’s lit up on its side to the right and the small sapling with very green leaves on the left are what this image is all about to me. You’ve presented a wonderful picture window into that scene. I only wish that it was closer to he viewer without so much space in the foreground but you worked this scene with what you had and made the most of it. It’s a beautiful Spring scene.

And there shall be…no consensus! I love it. We all have our perspectives and artistic preferences. Thanks so much for the additional input @Matt_Payne & @David_Haynes - I can always go back, and definitely will, but maybe later in the season to see how it looks with full summer growth. If I can survive the mosquitoes and deer flies!