Prairie Illusion (+4 re-edits - and the same view in October)

Here’s a re-work after Dick’s comment’s with a touch less exposure, saturation levels up and green luminance up also because I thought they looked a bit muddy.

And a 3rd try - saturation, Ed! Have I gone too far?? TBH I lowered the saturation & luminance of the green channel a little because it looked neon in spots. I also reduced the overall exposure.

Bill’s nittiest of nits resolved & saturation taken down a scosh.

The zig-zag illusion of this shot is what spoke to me. The main channel of the river roars in the background and this quiet offshoot moves more mellowly. It joins up behind me and the single channel forges on until another island splits it again downstream (the shot from the other day is just down from that second island).

This is more of my ongoing Prairie river project - to tell the story of a place. The nature and aspects of this river change dramatically and that’s why I can’t stay away.

Fall Update

And here it is in October from the same big rock. The log is still there in the foreground, but it’s almost completely obscured by ferns and other plants. I thought it would be fun to put this one in here for comparison.

Specific Feedback Requested

Does it translate? Without knowing what was going on here, does it make visual sense? I played with cropping it more and can’t decide - I mean from the top and bottom.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Lumix G9
Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 lens @ 21mm (42mm equiv.)
f/8 | 2.5 seconds | ISO 400
Tripod & ND filter & polarizer (plus added height by being on a big rock)

Lr processed for lens & wb correction, reduced exposure and adjusted black & white points. Cropped a slice of water to the right of the boulder. Massaged color channels for a more realistic look. Local adjustment brush to reduce exposure on everything except the water. Clarity, texture & sharpening applied, but minimally. I don’t want it to be too crispy.


The image has a fine use of lies to tell a story of early spring. The curve of water conveys motion and energy, and the vertical tree trunks convey to me a sense of harshness (winter is still close). The log leaning in from the left leads us into and keeps me in the scene.
But for me the de-saturated brightness of the woods is the dominant mood-creator, conveying not too much other than a wintery feel. I saturated and darkened the forest in the attachment, and might have taken it away from your target, but I think the river’s curve and color becomes more dominant.

Thanks for taking the time. I think I have a saturation slider phobia and every time I touch it I think it’s too much, though clearly it wasn’t. I put another shot in the OP for consideration.

Kris, Enjoying the second image more. The increase saturation makes this image.

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Very nice image, Kristen. The upgraded saturation level works a bit better for me. You selected a lovely spot for your story, those moss covered boulders are grand.

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Kris this does look like a neat place. I like how the river splits in two, that’s a very unusual and interesting composition. As you said the contrast between the calm and raging channels creates a nice contrast.

I prefer the rework by @Dick_Knudson to both your original and your rework. Both of your versions look slightly over-exposed to me, I prefer Dick’s darker treatment. I think Dicks version does a nice job of showing the rich green color of the moss. I think you are being a bit too conservative on saturation here, the mossy rocks are worth playing up a bit.

It was pretty bright - sun breaking up clouds, but with the two filters on I may have goofed on the exposure time. So I lowered it and posted a 3rd image in the OP.

Thanks everyone for working through this one.

This is a lovely scene, Kris! I love this type of “real” forest & stream images, and this one works great for me. Of the three versions, I prefer the second by far. I can only offer one slight suggestion, and it really is the nittiest of nits! Instead of reworking it and posting I am just marking it so you can actually see it. My suggestion is so small if I reworked and posted it you might not ever notice it! I would clone the small branch exiting the frame at the bottom, and clone the tiny branches at the left middle frame. As I said - TINY nits. Truly, this is a beautiful capture!

Thanks Bill. This river just entrances me. If it stays cloudy today I will go back and get down by the cliffs where the rapids are. Yep, cliffs just a mile or two down from this.

So I put a 4th image up in the OP for comparison.

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Since I shot this same scene the other day, I thought it would be fun to compare how things look at the very beginning of the green season to the very end of it. I wasn’t in the precise position as before, but it’s close. Amazing what a difference 6 months makes!