Spectral Splendor

This scene is from Chandler Slough a small meandering creek and swamp system that terminates in the Kissimmee River, which ultimately ends in the Florida Everglades. This was my first trip into Chandler Slough and I was accompanied by friend. We left early with barely any light and the eerie beauty of an unexplored Cypress swamp in twilight was in full form. I came across this image fairly early in the journey, the swamp was still dim but the fern was radiating out of the dark. Ordinarily I would have set up a tripod but shot this from the kayak as it was about belly button deep and still to early for me. Welcome all critiques, Sony A7Rii, Sony 24-105 F4, ISO 800, F4, 1/60, 47mm

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?


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Adam, I like the concept of this image, with the spotlit ferns surrounded by the dark and spooky forest. In processing the luminosity of the ferns you absolutely nailed it. I initially thought including some of the light in the sky competed with the ferns, but now think that it complements the scene.

I think the horizon is slightly tilted to the right, and would level it. This gets to be a subjective matter of personal taste but i am not a fan of the aspect ratio used here, I think there is too much room and negative space to the left of the ferns. To me the most interesting stuff is going on in the right half of the image, so I would crop from the left, and go with a square presesntation. I could also see adding a little more shadow detail here, but you need to be careful not to lose the spotlit effect. Here is a rework that addresses my comments. My rework may have lifted the shadows a bit too much, in hindsight i would back off it slightly.

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A wonderful image; beautifully seen and captured (and probably a wise choice to remain in the canoe…) :wink::roll_eyes:

It’s a rare occasion that I might disagree with Ed, but I think the extra, negative space is important in helping tell the nature and story of the swamp. Having that adds a little mystery and actually a sense of spookiness… Oh, and subtle as it may be, I like the secondary fern off the knee in the left bg.

I curious on the choice of b&w. Yes, I think the choice works and you did well in processing in order to make the most of the light and situation. Just wondering if there’s enough color and light to really emphasize the fern with warm light rather than with just light ones. Just a thought.


Adam, very nice B&W scene and I love how the light spotlit the small island there. I like Ed’s crop but I think cropping it to a horizontal panorama losing a little bit of the brighter top can work, too.

Love this Adam! I think a bit of a crop is good to emphasize the fern, but I’d keep the 2:3 ration. I’d also tone down that background a bit to let that fern sing a little more. Here’s what I came up with using those two ideas.

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I like both Ed and John’s creations. Here is still another option:

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Hi everybody,

Sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been out in the woods. Appreciate everybody’s input on this one. I really like the slight crop and toning down the top highlights that’s for sure the move in my opinion.