Skagit River

I’m not normally a landscape photographer, but I had some time to kill before meeting some folks for dinner last Saturday and spent it at a little pull out by the Skagit River that’s usually used for eagle watching. After the sun was down, I was wandering around and saw this stand of trees on the far shore. I liked the mysterious yet quiet feel of it, so that’s what I tried to express. I’d appreciate any input you could provide.

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?


Any pertinent technical details:

5DII, 70-200 zoom at 85 mm, 10 second exposure at iso 500 and f/25.

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

This looks really good, Dennis. Great “blue” mood to it. I am getting picky, but maybe boost the white trunks just a little? It is overall dark, but I think that works well for the mood. Nice work.


I think that this works quite well and I like how the trees have the ever so slight glow to them!

Dennis, a really nice composition here on this one. Although I’m thinking slightly brighten it up just a bit, but not so much as to lose the excellent mood…:+1:

Dennis, I like what the long exposure did for the water, and how reflected tree trunks show. It’s a pretty moody presentation, however for taste just a bit too dark.

You could go the opposite of the suggestions and either crop out the dark part of the water at the bottom or darken it somewhat. Just a thought.

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Moody and mysterious; I like it Dennis. The 10 sec exposure has smoothed out the water nicely and I like the subtle glow on the tree trunks. My only suggestion would be to clone out that orange dot right of center in the water. You spent your down time beautifully.

Thanks for the catch on that orange speck, Ed. I thought it was just a speck on my monitor!

I like this image - very moody and mysterious. The colour palette gives it depth, especially your treatment of the water. There’s a subtlety to your treatment that we don’t tend to see all that much in landscape images these days. That being said, I’m with Harley on this and would tend towards boosting the high lit whites in the tree trunks just a touch.

Here’s a revision. I used a TK midtones luminosity mask which seemed to accent the trunks by far the most and boosted exposure by a full stop through the mask.

This image evokes some interesting feelings. On one hand, I feel like the forest behind those trees is a place to avoid. It is therefore reassuring to have the river in between. But then there is a mysterious draw that kind of invites me to shirk all concerns and go in to see what wonders lie beyond.

A strange and haunting image … very lovely indeed.

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Thank you, Anil. It’s so cool when an image comes across to someone just the way you envision it.

Your redo addressed my main concern (appears under-exposed) though I could see pushing the trunks quite a bit lighter still. The blue water also looks it could be a strong element with it’s color and subtle texture.

Very much like the repost, Dennis - I feel the brightening of the trunks somehow invities the eye into the image that much better. The overall tonality - the icy blue of the water and the deep blacks and greys of the woods - sets up a very strong mood.

I enjoy these types of critiques very much and find them more valuable than suggestions of color and tonality. It reassures the photographer that he’s getting his point across. It also suggests the direction that processing should take.


A bit on the dark side for my own taste, although this opens up nicely in the larger view. And for sure the darkness sets a somber mood. Add to that the long exposure on the river and this still works very well.

Just a thought. You might consider adding a vignette, burning the corners down a little, especially in the river corners; the top is pretty dark already. Perhaps a good candidate for b&w?

I like the color and reflection in the river.


Thanks, Lon. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used a vignette, but I’ll give it a try.

I too would like to see a slight boost to the white of the trunks. But nice edgy quality.