Steamed Trees

This is one of the few images I walked away from Yellowstone that I was happy with, the conditions were fantastic but very challenging. I positioned myself to have three trees in the frame that had separation from each other and then waited for just the right amount of steam to make the trees stand out from the background.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Does the composition feel balanced? Does the bright sky bother your eye?

Revised version:

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

I like this! It really speaks to the harsh conditions these trees have to live through. The three trees add depth by all being at different distances and I like how my eye zig zags through the scene. I like that the middle one is striaght up and down and the one on the right is leaning right. I wish the one on the left were learning more left, but oh well. The light area on the right doesn’t really bother me, however when I look closely it looks like some of it lost detail and there’s a harsh transition to the less bright parts next to it. Does the raw image have detail there?

This is super nitpicky so I apologize in advance, but I cropped just a tiny bit off the right and bottom and to me it feels a little more balanced. I also added a very gradual vignette (which would definitely look better done on your master file). I think the darkening vignette brought out a little more blue saturation which I kinda like.




I can’t really judge the composition, but like Brent’s take on the image. The vignette makes the image more moody…Jim

David this image is clean and simple, but very powerful at the same time. Sometimes I feel like these trees in Yellowstone are more interesting to photograph than the geysers :grinning:.

I like that you managed to get each of the three trees leaning in slightly different directions, it’s a nice little touch. I also like that you have lot of negative space to the right, it gives the image a lighter and more airy feeling. the bright sky in the upper right corner was a bit bright for me, but @Brent_Clark suggestion of a vignette addresses that nicely. My only other nit is that I would suggest cloning away the near tree’s top right branch, which is suspended out of the top of the frame.

Was Yellowstone most challenging due to cold, wind, or just getting around in the snow? I assume you used snowshoes or skis?

David, I love the simplicity of this scene. The blowing snow is awesome and I think with the addition of the vignette, it is pretty much perfect. I also like what @Brent_Clark did with the crop. I feel that it’s more balanced that way. For some reasons, I am wishing for a little more on top. I am not sure why, but I am craving to see more of that tree in the immediate foreground.

Thanks guys, I put a revised version in the original post. I appreciate the feedback!

Ed, I found Yellowstone challenging from a vision perspective. I really had trouble seeing compositions for some reason. It could be that I’ve spent too much time away from snowy landscapes and my brain just wasn’t processing it. It does tend to take me awhile to connect with a new landscape before I can really ‘see’ it.

We did use snowshoes to get around and the weather was a challenge. I was shooting a geyser in the steam which covered my tripod in water droplets, then when I walked away from it all that water froze and my tripod was stuck in that position for the day :smile:

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Beautiful image in it’s simplicity and sparseness. In fact this is a really great image imo. Really good seeing. I suppose the rework is slightly better but a case can be made for the original. It has more negative space and the strength here is partly the negative space. Yeah, I’ll be a contrarian again and go with the OP.

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Oh how true this is. I am glad to hear that I am not alone on this.

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Been there, done that, while shooting New England waterfalls in winter…

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How did you de-ice it!? Do you have any videos with sound that show the process? :wink:

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David: Yellowstone in winter is high on my bucket list. I’m “settling” for spring in two months so this is whetting my appetite for the place. I’ve always found these skeletal trees to be compelling subjects and you’ve found a really nice grouping. I like your rework and the versions with the vignette. Overall I think this is very well seen and superbly captured.>=))>

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This is very other worldly and dripping with mood, David. The graphic simplicity of the scene; both in color and elements; works very well and is quite beautiful. I particularly like the ever so subtle warm glow in the scene. The couple of small tweaks in your repost nailed it IMO. Gorgeous image.

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David this is a beautiful (revised) image. You’ve definitely captured the essence of that part of the park. The trees in winter are so compelling - awesome comp! Given that, just a couple of items to consider experiment with:

  1. Have you considered B&W conversion - to my eye it just adds more starkness/simplicity to image
  2. I agree with others on crop but try going more aggressive. Bring bottom up, Left crop so twigs bleed off - effectively anchoring that side of the image and forcing the viewer to make progression. I’d also bring right side in.
  3. Any chance u could bring any texture into the snow into the foreground?

Beautifully captured David. The amount of steam seems just perfect (although how would I know not having been there?) I think in this case, the wee bit of color works to even enhance the feeling of cold and downright tough winter conditions.

Comp is excellent and thanks @Brent_Clark for including that “rule of thirds” grid - a great image to use as an example.

The repost works beautifully. My initial thought was wishing the main tree was free and clear up top, but my own rule says that if you’re going to cut something off, make it on purpose; and here it’s fairly clear to me that the tree is much taller than one could practically have included in the frame. And cloning out the “air branch” makes a big difference too.

Wonderful winter image with great atmosphere and nature story.



Superb image, David. I love the simplicity of this, and yet it tells a big story. Excellent composition, and I like the revised (darker sky) best. Well done.