Malheur Marsh

Is this a composite? Yes

The Malheur Wildlife Refuge made headlines recently due to the Bundy Boys holdout. It’s a place of lush growth and therefore of great value to the neighboring farmers.

I shot this image on a day that had forest fires close to 200 miles west of here. I had hoped that by driving east I would outrun the smoke but it never got clear. As a result the quality of light was pretty good but distant objects tended to fade. All of this is a lead up to how the image was shot. The initial shot was made on the smoky day and a month later it was reshot for the distant hills when the visibility was good. Of course I could not remember exactly where the tripod was placed exactly so I guessed. This is a rare composite taken at pretty much the same time of day but a month apart. Whew!

Malheur is a wetland that bounded by a sagebrush desert. I decided to combine the two in this image.
I’m curious what you think of this composition and the color combinations. All suggestions are welcome.

GFX50R, 32-64mm

Dick’s rework:


I really appreciate the cool/warm balance of colors including the sky. These “simple” compositions are not always so simple to execute and you did a really nice job here. There are lot of layers that create wonderful depth. If it were mine I would get rid of the power wires though, they always seem to be in the wrong place.

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This is a wonderfully intimate foreground combined with a Big Country background. Good for you for working so hard to bring us this.
I enjoy the sagebrush dome leading into the cattail and bullrush patterns. Also appreciate the yellow flowers anchoring the lower corners. For me, there is a lot of sky; I could do with half of it, reducing the power lines to one. Also, just personal preference, but I wanted to burn the shadows in the bluffs, and brush in some shadows into the sagebrush.


Yes, yes, yes! I love your crop. It brings the sage even more into your face. There’s a sense of taking off from it and gliding over the distant marsh. My archives show that I had done this very crop but decided against it in the final analysis. Big mistake.

Could you post your shot taken on the clear day? Was the foreground contrast too high?
I like your final composite with the crop.

The magentas and greens along with the warm tones of the grass are something to behold. @Dick_Knudson crop really ties all up on a nice pano and if you didnt mention it i would never guess it was a composite.

The colors and tonality of this are wonderful. I like the way you arranged the dark orange grasses to mimic the apex of the foreground bush. I wouldn’t have known it was a composite. There are some weird power-line things going on in the sky, though (even in the cropped version) - should be easily cloned out.

Very nice, Igor! That is certainly representative of Malhuer NWR. Personally, I like the amount of sky in your original image. With a uniform sky area like that, getting rid of the power lines with Content Aware Fill in Photoshop should be quick, easy, and undetectable in the final final.
Love the emphasis on the sage. I can almost smell the pungent and refreshing aroma. Great job on the composition, both foreground and background.

I like the strong emphasis on the sagebrush, and the the colors of the marsh. It is interesting to see two ecosystems combined like that. Shooting along the edges of environments can help tell some nice nature stories. I’m with @GregVaughn , here’s another vote for retaining the original amount of sky. I think the extra breathing room helps, and reducing the sky doesn’t really further emphasize the sage for me, since it is so in your face in the original version anyways.

This is very much typical of your work, Igor - understated. The colours and textures are wonderful as is the tremendous depth that this image offers. That being said, I much prefer the original crop. I think the rework adds a level of tension (due to the tightness of the sky) that undermines the overall quietude of this picture. As with Bonnie, I would clone out the power lines (even though the birds on the wire are charming).