Resurrection ferns + Repost

These ferns dry up and look dead until it rains and they spring back to life. This forest is full of beautiful nature. The camera is a nice way to connect with it.

Specific Feedback Requested

Happy for any feedback. I am an amateur interested in the artistic nature of nature photography : )

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No

Ben you did a really nice job of seeing and extracting an interesting composition in this forest. Creating order out of chaos in a forest is often not easy, but you have done a nice job with that here. I think the repeating diagonal lines of the tree trunks make for a dynamic composition.

I think the processing of the image could be improved for more impact. I would darken the image overall to create more contrast, I think you can do so without losing shadow detail. The large bright spot between the two trunks is also pretty hot and I would burn that down to pull back the highlights. I would also suggest a slight crop from the top and bottom, to eliminate the small gap in the extreme upper left corner (ULC), and the bright spot in the lower right. I think both of those things are minor distractions that be eliminated via cropping. If you don’t mind, here is a rework reflecting my comments. I think the darker exposure enhances the look of the dappled light you have here. I may have gome a bit a too far dropping exposure, but you get the idea.

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Wow! Thank you Ed for the outstanding feedback!
I have not processed my photos before because I did not really know how to improve them while still preserving what I actually saw and without making it look overly done. I’d rather have the pure image. But, now I feel like with all that you have shared - I could process the photo a bit and print it and put it up on the wall as a much more professional photo but still one that looks natural and un-altered. I think the suggestions you made about contrast and slightly adjusting some of the overly bright or overly dark areas with dodge and burn will still look ‘unworked’.
I will test it out and see.
One tool I actually have been using frequently is cropping - I agree about cropping out the tiny corner on the top and the bright area at the bottom. Thank you also for demonstrating your suggestions on my actual photo - that is very helpful. Best, Ben

I attempted some burn/dodge and cropping. How about this?

From your comments about not processing much, I assume you are still early on in your photography. A common misconception among some early stage photographers is that no processing or “unworked” is more “natural looking” than processed. This could not be further from the truth. Our eyes see way more stops of light than camera’s sensors do (ie our eyes see more detail in highlights and shadows than our cameras). To make scenes look more like we saw them with our eyes, you need to process them. I think my rework helps illustrate that point. If you shot this as a raw file rather than a jpeg, then raw files by design look very flat and uninteresting because raw files are intended to be processed. Well done processing not only recreates the look of what we saw with our eyes, but it can enhance images with creative intent. In this image the burning of the bright spots balances the light better and eliminates distracting hot spots. That is not necessarily “natural”, but it is more aesthetically pleasing.

Regarding your own rework, it’s still not where I would take this to my subjective taste, although your taste may be different, and that’s fine. After all it is your image, and not mine. I think your crop makes it better than the original post, but your reworks crop feels a bit tight to me. I still think your rework is too bright, and could benefit from darkening. Darkening increases both contrast and color saturation. Compare the darker ferns in my rework to those in your rework. To my taste the fern colors look richer and more saturated, which is my preference. YMMV.

Yes I do like your rework better, yes I am very much a beginner with regards to processing and technical photography and editing skills. I use an iphone primarily and focus mainly on subject, composition, and cropping. I see that I have a lot to learn and I appreciate that you are assisting me to potentially grow as a photographer. This site is my first introduction to technical photography. I love nature photography and am able to take photos that I really like. However, it is very interesting to explore further with some of the guidance you and others have offered. Thank you very much for your input including your comments on what the eyes and the camera see differently.

If you don’t mind, I have some further curiosity…

The current editing tools I can use are apple photos for basics and Affinity suite for more complex.

Is the ‘darkening’ through ‘exposure slider’? Or is it more complex than that?
Is burning the bright spots down done with a ‘burn’ tool brushing over the bright areas? If so, - using a relatively small size brush or something about the size of the area I want to burn?
Do I need a separate layer for burn or I can just work directly on the image?
Is burning similar to the exposure slider but just for a selected area of the photo, or is it something else altogether?
Thank you Ed

I found some good answers to my questions by watching burning and dodging tutorials for affinity on vimeo. Thanks, Ed : ) I will experiment again to see if I can get results like your edit example.

Dodge, Burn, Sponge tools tutorial for Affinity Photo Suite

I had guessed that this might be a phone photograph, not that there is anything wrong with phone images. If you are serious about pursuing nature photography more in depth, I would recommend looking into digital camera with interchangeable lenses. This would give you a lot more options for how you image look and feel, with great control over focal length, focusing, etc… You would also get access to better quality raw files which leave more latitude for processing adjustments, as opposed to shooting jpeg.

I’m not familiar with Affinity. Like many others here, I use Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom has adjustment brushes and radial filters that let you burn (darken) or dodge (lighten) specific areas, and or tones (using range mask in conjunction with them). Not sure how Affinity works.

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Yes, I use the iphone 7+ primarily because i never have to question whether or not to bring it on a wlak or hike because it fits in my pocket. I wondered whether I would be out of place here because everyone else appears to be using actual cameras. However, so far I seem welcome. And the feedback is really good. I am learning a lot from this community from direct feedback and from other’s photos and feedback. The phone gives me regular, macro, and a 2x digital zoom and that is it. Affinity photo suite was a very affordable choice and it seems to offer a lot for a low price. I recently discovered it has adjustment brushes to burn, dodge, or sponge specific areas, and tones selection of highlights, mids, and shadows. Perhaps I will make some upgrades at some point.
Thanks again Ed

Sounds like affinity is similar in some functions to Lightroom, so it’s the same principles being used.

I am not trying to put down phone photography, since the most important pieces of photo gear are in your brain, ie imagination and creativity. Good composition can be achieved by both phones and cameras. My real point is that as you gain more experience with photography, having a digital camera will open up a whole other world of creative choices and options.

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Everything you said, I appreciate Ed. Multiple attempts with multiple softwares and I still have not been able to replicate the example editing steps you took though. I have been adjusting exposure, and burning but the results are not like your example yet. I would like to learn it. I will keep studying.
In Affinity:
Exposure - gives me sliders for exposure, black point, vibrance.
Burning offers choices (highlights, mids, or shadow) & %s for opacity, flow, hardness.
Maybe I will need to try lightroom - or visit some lightroom tutorials.

Here is my latest attempt to replicate your example edits.