Rock City detail

While exploring an area called Rock City in Northern California I came upon a section of a boulder that what I think is an interesting pattern of cracks and arrangement of multi-colored moss (or is it lichen or something else?).

Specific Feedback Requested

I find there is enough to spend a little time with the image, but curious if others feel that way or not.

Technical Details

Focus stacked.

Hi Dean! I think there are some interesting elements here, but a few things get in the way of appreciating them.

First off, the main convergence of the three cracks surrounded by the big grouping of lichen, I suspect, is why you pulled out the camera and what the image is really about. So I feel like there might be a bit too much space around it, I’d like to see the composition more focused. I tried a 4x5 crop, losing some of the top, bottom, and left, while still maintaining the overall positioning you originally had.

Another thing is that the white balance is quite warm, so the warm rock (natural as it may be) does not serve as an effective backdrop for the also-warm lichen. I think cooling down the white balance helps a lot, even if it’s less realistic.

Lastly, the lower-right of the image is quite a bit brighter than the upper-left, so I wanted to even out that difference in luminosity.

I’ve attached changes below, but I have another idea, prompted by you asking “is it lichen or something else?” - I think any sort of crop or manipulation we do to this file is still going to be pretty plainly rock and lichen. Perhaps this is because I’m a nature photographer who sees a lot of it in person, but if your intent is to convey something else, I would consider going quite a bit closer/tighter on the lichen and getting into the realm of macro. Then it becomes a lot less apparent that it’s rock+lichen, and looks more like an abstract painting. Just a thought! I hope this is helpful.

Dean, I see why you took this photo. The colors and lines make for an interesting and abstract type of photograph. I do prefer Alex’s edit as it concentrates the eye better by making the subject stand out more.

Dean, lichen on rock is one of my favorite subjects. Love the convergence of lines with surrounding patches of color in this. Like Alex suggested, I’ve found I often need to cool down the WB to make the colors really stand out, depending on the ambient light.

Thank you Alex, David, and Jack. I am liking the edit, the tighter aspect ratio, cooler white balance, and better balanced luminosity. I think I got too attached to the original aspect ratio and although I did some luminosity balancing it was not enough. I am looking forward to being more open to different possibilities with editing in the future!