Snow Dance (+ 2 re-edits)

With the corner cloned -

With corner cloned with more focus consistency -

I got out yesterday since it was a balmy 32 degrees. Snowshoes again and this little plant stopped me in my tracks and made me do tripod contortions around a tree to get this shot. I wanted to get the branches separated and flowing in a way that showed the best against reasonably clean snow. I think it’s a tiny tamarack pine sapling, as I was in what I think is a semi-bog with what I think was black spruce and definitely white cedar as the primary tree species. Everything else was basically buried. Possibly something like leatherleaf was showing, too, which makes a bog more likely.

Anyway…I love it for all the reasons I love winter minimalism. Plus I think this one looks graceful, like a ballet dancer and so the title.

Specific Feedback Requested

Open to any feedback - I did clean up the snow, but not to a perfect clean slate as per something Tony Kuyper mentioned about one of my other shots like this. Does it add verisimilitude and does that improve the image?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No


Lr for initial RAW development, but it just needed a nice curves layer and raised shadows to bring up the detail in the plant and branches and the little seed cones. Slightly cropped to 2:3 ratio. Dehaze applied to bring out the texture in the snow a little. Photoshop to clean up that snow, but left some little bits here and there.

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Wonderful, Kris. Yes, at least for me, it does feel quite real. Having the one branch only slightly visible adds a curiousness to the scene. . . at least for me. The darkness in the ULC is for me a bit of a distraction, but my eyes keep going back to the lovely form of the bush. Very nicely seen.

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Thanks @linda_mellor - I was wondering about that corner - it’s a little dip in the snow and I had a few goes at lightening it, but everything looked weird. Maybe I’ll try some luminosity masking in Photoshop.

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The re-edit rocks, Kris. Well done.

Thanks @David_Bostock - after futzing with some brushes and masks that wasn’t working at all, I just went the clone stamp route. I think it works better. Ordinarily I try to include ripples, dips and curves in snow, but this time it didn’t help the shot.


A lovely simple composition Kris. I like the plain white snow it has just enough texture.
So is it a sapling ?..or is the snow very deep!

Thanks @Ryan - glad you find the texture a benefit for the shot.

It is a sapling, buried in perhaps 18-22 inches of snow based on how much of my tripod legs disappeared. Tamaracks are my favorite trees and I just figured out that this is how the tiny ones look in winter. They’re the only conifer to drop its needles in the fall. Those little nubs are where they grow in tiny bunches like brooms.

Another graceful and lovely minimalist image! The little “flowers” or “cones” or whatever they are give it wonderful interest. I love the subtle texture on the snow and how it falls off in focus toward the top. I do like the RP with the UL corner lightened but you cloned from an area with more texture. If you copied it from an area to its right you’d get what feels like a more appropriate focus softness.

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Thanks @Diane_Miller and good point about the focus consistency - I was trying not to over-brighten that corner and failed to keep in mind how crisp the snow is closer to the camera on that side. I’ve given it another go, sampling from several areas across the top and placing them more or less randomly. Better?

Hi Kris, your edits do improve the original without overdoing it. I see the two small branches going off on their own and the other pouting that it wasn’t included, lol. Almost ballet-ish and a nice catch presented well.

Excellent! (Color me a DOF snob…)

Thanks @Jim_Lockhart and again, @Diane_Miller - ballet is what I first thought of when I found this little tree. I’m glad the snowfield provided enough separation naturally. And I think paying attention to details like matching the DOF when cloning is really important. I’ve done it with other images, but had a brain fade with this one. Just another example of how the expert eyes here can help take our work further than we can ourselves. :heart_decoration:

I like the form of the tree against the snow. Well done. The last edit is the strongest of the three.

Thanks @bryannelsonca, I think so too.

I absolutely love the gorgeous simple , minimal, composition. The reworks really improved the image. But I feel the dirt/soot? on the snow makes the image look noisy. I like my snow, clean and white with a tiny bit of texture. Sort of like your previous image. This is just my personal taste. But I seem to be in the minority, so there you go.

Thanks again @Michael_Lowe - snow is a divisive factor, some like it very clean and some find that boring and lacking presence. I am ok with either so long as I feel it serves the central subject. In this case it’s just debris that falls from branches and tree trunks, sometimes just natural sloughing, sometimes from woodpeckers and other birds. Plus it was a little warm and the snow was melting just a tiny bit and that tends to bring some texture as it settles.