Opportunity Knocks

On my way to Yosemite on my last visit. Winter storm warnings in effect and snow levels were down below 2000ft. According to road condition info I would be putting chains on a good 45 min before even reaching the park. Ahh, but I was fortunate and the roads were clear (I usually don’t trust those reports anyway.) But along the way, fog was swirling around the the hills and canyon walls were dusted with snow. Finally I just had to pull over and see what I could capture. I tried to emphasize the lone fall tree without making it too obvious. Hopefully I was successful.

As always, your comments, critique and suggestions always welcome.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Processing of course. Luminosity? bright enough?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any comments appreciated. Work for you?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

NIkon D800E, 28-300mm @72mm f/16 1/25th iso 100. Single frame


This photo is not working for me. Something is missing in the overall feel of the photo. Perhaps its the hint of color among the other plants over to he left side that keeps nagging at me. The main tree feels to far to the right and to high up, that is it is too centered between the top and bottom, at least for my tastes. Was there something to the right of the tree that forced this composition? Just my two cents.

Lon, First, congratulations on your NPN 2019 award for having one of the best images of the year.
I like this image as it is. It has effective simplicity that leaves me with a chill and an appreciation for the tree’s survival in the elements. The fog and haze create a mood and message that attract to the scene. Do you think that adding a tad (not much) of contrast on a diagonal to the left of the main tree from where the main fog ends up about midway between the tree top and the top frame of the image would enhance the image more? Of course, I would be careful not to eliminate the haze in the shadow areas. No nits here. Thanks for posting this beauty.

Thank you @Youssef_Ismail for your honesty. There wasn’t anything on the right per se that I was trying to exclude - I think it was more like wanting to include the fog and more to the left, which likely why I positioned the tree as I did. But you’re probably closer to the real reason - it’s just not all that compelling…

And thank you @Larry_Greenbaum for your comments and mentioning the annual award - Appreciate it very much. I think your suggestion is a good one and I think there are definitely some tweaks that could be made here. In fact Youssef mentioned the hint of color in the rest of the plants. I actually muted those colors so as to not compete with the tree - plus they were a bit obscured by the passing mist. The are no doubt some different directions I could take this.

Thanks for the comments.


Lon, I have to agree with Youssef about this image.And with Larry to congratulate you on your award for Best image of the year, WOW.

Lon, I like the concept of this image, and think it has potential to be tweaked for more impact. It sort of reminds me of my recent post of the golf course trees with the little brother tree. As in that image, I think it makes sense here to de-saturate the other trees. What I would suggest is to place more emphasis on the right-most tree. I would increase the luminosity of the yellow leaves. I would also emphasize it further by using a a panoramic crop, to me the top of the image is not adding that much. This gets into personal style and taste, but I would add some Orton Effect here for even more dreaminess. Here is a rework reflecting my suggestions.

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Lon, I think your subtle emphasis on the main tree (or de-emphasis on the other tree’s colors) works well at drawing attention and telling the story. I do think that the positioning of your main subject would be better higher in the frame and maybe a bit more to the left. The combination of snow, fog, and colored leaves is quite striking.

Hi Lon, I see potential and I like the direction @Ed_McGuirk has taken the file. To me the main tree at right is the focal point of the image and it makes sense to raise the luminosity and saturation so it stands out more against the monochromatic background at the same time desaturating the other small trees. I also find the negative space to the left a bit too heavy, Accordingly, I would crop about 1/3 of the left side. I think it’s worth tinkering with.

Hi Lon,
This is a unique view between seasons and I love the mood. The part that is not working for me is the angle, which I am guessing is up a steep canyon. I could only tell by your description that I was looking up, and not looking at a drone photo of a flatter landscape. I’m not sure what would help, perhaps cropping around the fall tree. I think it is because the top of the photo slopes away from the viewer. Perhaps if you darkened it at the top it would help? I’m not sure. I can see why you wanted to stop and get this shot, though. Yes, it is bright enough for a stormy image. I like Ed’s rework. It does take the angle problem away for me.

Thank you @Ben_van_der_Sande, @Ed_McGuirk, @Mark_Seaver, @Dave_Dillemuth and @Kathy_Barnhart for your suggestions to improve this.

Ed, I think your rework is better than my original! :grin: I have a few other comps and orientations, but they don’t get any better. I think there’s a good reason I didn’t post it sooner…

I quite like this one, Lon. My first thought echoed one of Dave’s, isolating the main tree in terms of color and desaturating, at least to an extent, the others (especially the one bottom center). I like the negative space and would not crop it at all. Well seen and executed.

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Lon, have you thought about flipping the image? Seems like it has a better visual flow that way?