Revenge of the Owens River

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Record snowfall in the Eastern Sierra Nevada promises record runoff, and that means the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has been extracting most of the water from Owens Valley for decades, will have more water than it can handle. Many longtime Owens Valley watchers are forecasting destructive runoff. The much abused but – this year – revitalized Owens River in late April was already flowing strongly into vast Owens Lake, which dried up after LA started taking all the water. I was out on the lake early to photograph birds and found the river itself, a very rare sight, filling a barren area of the lake, reclaiming a place which once held a lake some 30 feet deep.

Specific Feedback

Questions about how much foreground and background, tight crop, etc. I was up on a dike so could shoot down, filling the frame, but might have climbed down and got closer to the water. I have some panoramic crops as well, but they tend to flatten out the high peaks in the distance, source of the river.

Technical Details

F11, 1/800th, ISO500, Nikon Z6II, handheld.

James, a fine look at this area during this start of the upcoming MAJOR snow runoff. Lots of history behind this area on several levels. The biggest of course as you’ve outlined was and is the water diversion over the years.

James, the view looks great, with nice curves and ripples in the river, the long view across the flats and the distant, rugged peaks. I don’t think the blue reflections along the bottom are adding to the view, so I’d suggest cropping just below the water line. There’s also a bright line, a few pixels wide, along the right hand edge.

Thanks Paul. I want to go back and see the runoff at peak. I won’t be surprised if they close access to the Owens Lake bird ponds because the levees out there are being weakened by the rising waters.

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Thanks Mark – I left the reflections in because they show advancing water, but they are a distraction from the river itself.