Pioneer

With this image, I want to show how this False Solomons Seal plant is the first of it’s kind in this former river bed. I named it after the term given for species of plants after a disturbance in an early ecological succession (pioneer species).

Specific Feedback Requested

  • Overall processing
  • Crop. Given the story I want to tell, I wanted to show as much of the surrounding rocks as possible. I feel like I could possibly take a little off the top but wondering what others think.

I’m open to anything else that stands out.

Technical Details

Sony a7rIV | 24mm | 1/8 | f13 | ISO 100

Single image processed in Photoshop

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Great title and description of your intent. Regarding a potential crop I initially also thought about taking a little off the top but I do like how the moss covered rock along the left side has an edge that leads close to but not quite at the ULC. Also the plant is “looking” toward the top of the image so having more space on top versus bottom works. My only processing suggestion would be to burn the few little budding leaves below the plant–they seem a tad bright, but I’m really nitpicking.

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Thanks, Dean. Those are great thoughts!

Hi Matt. This is a great image. I think the top works well. The smaller rocks up there add some depth. I really like the contrasting greens and the way the plant leads you through the photo.

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Thanks for your take as well, Cameron.

Hi Matt. Gorgeous image here. I really like the story you’re telling with this (great title too). The color looks good to me, very natural, and with the moss-covered rocks, it exudes PNW.

With regard to the crop, I’m a little torn. Like @DeanRoyer and @Cameron_Wilcox mentioned, the bit a the top does give it a good sense of depth, and I know you want to include as much surrounding rock as possible. I still think it could be cropped down a bit though, especially because that strong diagonal top of the triangular rock still seems to lead me off frame a bit. Alternatively, since the brightness of the moss up there on the edge attracts the eye, you could try burning that some, also maybe vignetting the ULC (the URC seems significantly darker).

I’d also consider dodging the area just under the plant, to show a little more of the moss texture against the lovely bluish rock (just a bit) and perhaps a tad of the same to the LLC shadows between the rocks.

These are all pretty small changes. I’d love to have taken this one!

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Hi Matt, terrific image and story. I think it works well.

Regarding the crop, I also struggle. I like the extra space at the top, but also feel that it pulls me away from the plant, the main subject. I did a screen crop removing all of the top of the angled rock. It resulted in a square comp and it seemed to work for me. It gave me the sense that the plant is the star.

The only other suggestion might be to warm the image up just a small bit.

Regards,
David

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This is a wonderful subject and a well-crafted composition Matt. I like the play between the two plants, and how they interact with the environment. You mention possibly cropping a bit off the top, and I think that would be beneficial, and here’s why. The diagonal line of the moss-covered rock leading to the upper left corner creates visual tension, stealing the thunder from the main subject. I’ve learned to avoid having diagonal lines heading toward a corner because they become an eye magnet. Cropping a small amount from the top so that line no longer heads to the corner, along with possibly darkening the little mossy lump along that same edge that will now be closer to the top edge of the photo, significantly calms the image and places more emphasis on the central plant.

Another thing I notice is the brightness of the main plant in relation to the rest of the image. Did you do any dodging to the central plant at all to make it stand out more? If so, I would consider lessening that a bit. And if not, I would work to ever so slightly soften the contrast a bit so it doesn’t jump out as much and feels more integrated with the rest of the image.

In any case, I really enjoy this image, and you should be quite proud of it.

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Hey Matt - I agree with various points that everyone has made!

The overarching issue is extraneous space and relatively unimportant forms and areas of brightness distracting from the main subject. To Dean’s point about the plant looking/pointing upward, I totally agree that there should be more space above, as we’re kind of led in that direction by the main subject. It would have been interesting if some of those boulders and extra details were situated in the upper-left rather than the top edge, because then this would have worked as a point-counterpoint type composition with the plant in the LR and the mossy rocks in the UL.

But as nature gave it to you, with the plant pointing to a relatively featureless/empty area, it’s more about the way the rocks cradle the plant, and the horizontally centered placement makes more sense as a result. A square crop like David suggested looks very balanced to my eye, but it does lack the extra space above and so it feels a bit “on the nose” with subject vertically centered too. Ben and Jack were thinking along the lines of cropping less and simply darkening brighter/busier distractions up there, and I agree with that.

I tried a crop right above the bottom-center triangle of moss, as I felt that was only a distraction from the subject, given how the edge of the moss exits the frame and then immediately re-enters to the right - it just feels kind of “incomplete” and not substantial enough to support the whole composition down there. At the top, I cropped below all the busy areas, and then darkened that little “hump” of moss as Ben suggested.

Ben also noticed that the plant looks a bit artificially dodged - it may be a bit bright and perhaps more green/saturated in comparison to the moss than we’d expect, but I think the biggest problem there is that there appears to be a dark outline around the bright plant. So I brightened up the dark areas right around the leaves, and I darkened the brighter, cooler leaves that seem to have a bit of a sheen to them.

I also went around and darkened various distractions and vignetted where necessary, and then brightened the whole image a bit to compensate for the then-too-dark look it took on as a result. I also lightened up the super dark crack in the lower left, and I brightened up the flower at the tip of the plant as it looked like it was too dark compared to the green leaves.

After all that, I noticed the moss around the plant still looked a bit “dirty”, but brightening it didn’t fix it. I think it was all the brown colors in the moss, so I took the hue of red in the moss areas and shifted it toward green, so there’s a bit more color homogeneity. I also darkened cyans overall, as some of those in the main plant and the rocks were pretty bright.

I think the result is a lot calmer and easier to focus on the main subject:

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@Jack_Krohn, @David_Bostock, @Ben_Horne, and @Alex_Noriega wow thank you all for the awesome advice. I appreciate you taking the time to really evaluate this one. It’s been really cool to hear all of your opinions.