Thank you everyone for your comments on the pictures!
I am a little surprised that more people lean towards the first image, since I like, or liked, the second one more. But coming back to it, maybe the first one does actually have a stronger message.
I first read your post on my (rather old) iPad, where I did not perceive the trees as too dark. I’m writing this answer now on an iMac and I find myself agreeing with you. So maybe I should rely more on my newer hardware when editing photos Thanks!
Thank you for the suggestion! Could you explain a little bit, what you mean by balancing the greens? You mean, making them less saturated?
What I did is, I desaturated the top 80% of the picture quite heavily. The red and green grasses are only slightly raised in saturation.
In the first image, I mostly desaturated the top 80% of the image, as I’m writing above. I also darkened some distractingly bright branches and mushrooms, growing on the trunks. In the second, I cleaned up the water a little bit and darkened the image a touch, except for the area around the reddish tree.
What I did with both images, and what I find to have quite a big impact, is cloning out some bright patches at the top of both images. (or I guess cloning in more branches would be a more precise description).
Although there weren’t a lot of them, cloning those out gives both images a much more intimate and clearer message, I think.
Peter, I find the out of focus beaches in the bottom distracting as well!
One thing I could hardly do while photographing with the stroller in one hand, so to speak, is bring a tripod. So the picture is handheld at f9, ISO 720 and I think 1/40s, which is about the slowest speed I can handhold.
That would maybe leave focus stacking as an option, but to be honest, I am seldom satisfied with the result of that. If I took an extra picture with the branches in the foreground in focus, I would usually get halos around the branches if I try to paste them in in Photoshop. Any tips here are greatly appreciated!