Sea Fall

Here’s an updated version trying to incorporate the suggestions:

And here’s the original:

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


When @Steve_Kennedy and I visited the southern Oregon Coast last December, we hoped we might catch big waves at Shore Acres. Although the weather was wild on that trip, the wind direction and swells weren’t enough to produce the waves that location is famous for. Since the waves were a bust, I decided to play with some of the rock formations that the waves break on there.

Steve and I were at Shore Acres twice, and I photographed this section of rock because I liked the interesting shapes and subtle colors. The rock was dry at the time, but when we returned the second time the waves were breaking over the rock and the water then draining away. I photographed the same area again with the water running off, and decided I preferred it.

Specific Feedback

I played with all sorts of variations in crop, tone, and saturation (and black and white), and this is where I landed. Any thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.

Technical Details

NIKKOR Z 24-200 f/4-6.3 VR at 170.0 mm
0.4 sec. at f/16.0 and ISO 31

Truth in Blending Statement: This is actually a blend of two images because of a focusing error. I took a couple images that were focused correctly, but then somehow bumped the focus and the rest were slightly soft. In the sharp images, the best one had less flow in the upper right corner and was a little less balanced then some of the out-of-focus ones. I decided to be greedy, and snagged some of the water in the URC from a soft image (the slight softness wasn’t a problem due to the motion blur of the water) and used lighten mode to blend it in.


WOW!! I find this very unique and well-done. It isn’t easy to catch waves washing over rocks like this and I think you did a perfect job. It’s a busy scene but all the parts are so interesting that it works for me. The corner looks perfect – whatever it takes to get the best scene works for me!

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This came out great John! Good thing we came back the 2nd day. There’s a lot of eye candy to hold interest. I think the exposure and shutter speed are about perfect and I really like the comp. Well done!

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Funny that you talk about focus. That’s the first thing that caught my eye…the center rock looks perfectly in focus and pristine, so my eye goes to it right away. The water all around is like a big wide flowing curtain providing a backdrop for the shining rock. I really like this composition, John!

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John, there are amazing dynamics in your image to my eye. Complementing the mighty flow, the unwavering rocks make for a sense of steadfastness that keeps all the elements together for me.

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This is excellent, John. There is a lot going on but it comes together beautifully with the way you have composed it. A very strong, dynamic scene.

It is very minor, but I found a little eye pull in the ULC. I used a gradient mask and pulled down the mids with a curve layer and desaturated it a bit as well.

I like this one a lot.


John, this is so unique. I love it. Typically we see the larger vistas from Shore Acres. It’s great to see a closeup more intimate shot. Excellent composition and choice of shutter speed. Well done.


Very nice timing, shutter speed, and balance in this scene. I would only recommend adding a soft vignette to slightly darken the edges so that they are not the same value as the center, this way direct the viewer’s focus a little more.


I would have titled this ‘Royalty’ or some such thing. I get the sense of a royal court where the attendants are fawning on the central character. Yes, there is a wonderful centeredness here with all the water entering towards it. I have read all the suggestions so far but in my opinion it’s the rocks on the center right side that break down the appearance of an arena. It also reminds me of that fountain in Rome where several films were made (La Dolce Vita). Well done. There isn’t much color here so you would think b&w would be an option but if you say you tried it and were dissatisfied then that’s that.

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This is a fabulous image! Quite unique as well. I say that because without the backstory and no knowledge of the location, I would never have thought about ocean waves crashing on rock - but rather a waterfall is what comes to mind. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a rock formation like this - let alone combined with crashing waves. Very, very cool!

Hard pressed to find anything critical here. Love the shutter speed and the motion in the water; and balanced beautifully with the rock. The variation in tone/color in the rock is an added beauty bonus.

I can only think of minor tweaks to this which amount to personal choices in how one might process this. My first thought was increasing the contrast a bit in the flow of water in the LLC. Of course the amount of water flowing over the rock in that corner is what gives the appearance of lower contrast, so I offset by adding/painting in some contrast in that area. Also blended in some texture in that small bean-shaped white water that almost looks washed out (but it’s not.) Lastly, I also brushed in some contrast in the center rock formation just for added attention. Minor tweaks for sure. An image worth squeezing every last drop - ha ha, pun…

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I’m with EB here - I think a vignette could help.
I also think its a bit right heavy on the comp due to all the rocks… but overall I think its a successful image.

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Thank you all for the kind comments and great suggestions. I made another run at it and will post it for comparison above. Not sure how well I succeeded at putting the suggestions to work, but hopefully I was close.

@Harley_Goldman, thanks for the suggestion. I tried to tone down that corner in the new version.

@Igor_Doncov I probably need to make another run at that at some point; I didn’t spend much time on the original one I played with before moving on.

@Lon_Overacker, I really like those changes; thanks.

@Eric_Bennett and @Matt_Payne, I applied some vignette, but found if I went too far it seemed to muddy the water in the corners a bit. I applied an inverted luminosity mask to try to dull that some, but still wasn’t sure with the stronger effect. I’ve tried again with the new version, but maybe it needs more?



The repost looks great! Changes are subtle, but most certainly improvements!

Thanks for taking the time and considering the suggestions!

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I had a bit of that thought too. I struggled, because the wave wasn’t really coming over the rock as much as it was sweeping in from the bottom left and then running back off. A new wave would come in while the water drained, and to get the water just right was a challenge to move the comp that way. Here’s the widest version that I took the day before with a lower tide keeping it dry. My plan was to try to crop to that somewhat natural rectangle, but couldn’t get the water to quite cooperate. (This is the jpg straight from the camera, just downsized.)

What about something like this to deal with the heavy right side. It admittedly still needs Anita Ekberg.

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Wow that’s super interesting!

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