Sunrise in a pool

I just came back from a solo backpacking trip to the High Sierra over the labor day weekend. In those few days, I had the chance to toy with some new ideas for composition. Not all of them work but I have a few that somewhat resonate with me. This is one of them. All feedbacks are welcome. What works for you and what doesn’t work?

Nikon D750, 35mm cropped from the sides to this aspect ratio, f/11, 1/6 sec, ISO 100.


  1. Lightened the ULC trees and darkened the grass on the LRC,
  2. Focus stacked for sharper reflection


You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.
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Adhika, I can see why this image resonates with you, it has a quiet beauty. I’m glad you decided to look down at your feet despite being in what had to be a spectacular alpine environment. The composition is very well thought out and organized, which is commendable given how scattered around these rocks are. You got so many things “right” here with the rocks in this comp, and the placement of the tree and mountain reflections are icing on the cake. If I had one composition nit, it would be the merger of the bright and dark rocks in the URC just to the right of the mountain. But you got so many other things right in this composition, it’s not really fair to pick on that small merger.

Some might say the foreground could be warmed up, but I actually like the cool bright rocks, they create a nice color contrast against the mountains reflection. This gets into subjective personal taste, but I would suggest a dodging of the green grass, and maybe a very slight warming of that grass. A subtle warming here might be worth fooling around with.

This was a very enjoyable image to see, with lots of interesting details, great vision on your part to see this and extract it from the landscape !!!

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Adhika…my first thought was that you thought to look down! I’m pretty sure I woulda been totally overwhelmed by what was before me and I like this approach to simplifying elements. Seems to me a tool one could use to calm down a bit on location.

I really like the reflected subtle blue light! My read on the shot is that you may have already dodged the grass a bit and perhaps more would be too noticeable? Personal taste is that the grass if fine and the white balance of the shadowed rocks is good.

I do have a question…the mountain is a bit out of focus…as a reflection, would that come in sharp if you had refocused? Or, was this due to water motion?

Not sure there’s much else I would consider doing…I really like it as is. I’m wrestling with my own compulsion with sharpness throughout…:disappointed:

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Oooh, love this. Always look down, that’s my motto. :wink:

I think making the lighter parts of the grass a tad darker and the upper left corner lighter would even out the balance. I tried that, and I could see you have some green up there in the ULC. Lightening it a bit would balance the greens on the lower right. It’s a lovely photo.


Thanks so much, @Ed_McGuirk, @Jim_McGovern, and @Bonnie_Lampley! Great inputs here!

Jim, you are right that it could be sharper although the water ripple also plays some role. Luckily I had the foresight to create a focus stack of the image. I have revised the OP with the image with the reflection in focus.

Bonnie, great suggestions to the vegetations on the opposing corners. I really like that idea of lifting up the shadows on the ULC. I think it’s a super great idea. I have revised the image in the OP.

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A beautiful image. I really like the revision but think the upper left corner could be lightened even a touch more.

Adhika, this is very well composed on your part. I like the suggestions from the others and I think the revision is an improvement to an already fine image. My first thought was the scene had a very nice natural flow from LLC to URC. Even though it is very static water it feels more dynamic than a typical reflection scene. I am enjoying the wonderful details of this one! Well done.

Really like the 2nd image Adhika - especially like the contribution @Bonnie_Lampley made.

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Thanks, @Jim_Gavin and @Alan_Kreyger!

Jim, I played with lightening that section a touch more but feels like it starts to pull the eyes to the corner. Perhaps I will see it differently in a few days!

Alan, thanks for the kind words. @Jim_McGovern’s comment made me think what if there is no ripple on the water. I have seen a few images where the reflection is pretty much indistinguishable from the actual object. Sometimes I feel that it is a little distracting, sometimes I think it’s great. Definitely something I would think about when I encounter this type of scene.

Love the composition. I do like the second image, but I don’t think you should brighten the ULC any more than it is, I think it’s just enough to balance the photo. Your colours are excellent. The blue of the rocks balances well with the cool green of the grass. I might try to remove a little of the warmth in the upper right, just to see it, but it’s probably fine the way it is now. Great image overall!

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Beautifully seen and photographed. Yes! We all need to spend more time looking down - and all around!

Thanks for the rework. I think bringing the mountain in to focus and lightening the corner are excellent improvements. I’m torn a little on the grass. I kinda like it a little lighter globally, not selectively like your original. But this is all a matter of personal taste and given the time of day, conditions, etc. your rework is excellent.


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I think this is a really cool image. There’s a lot of different elements that work together and are fun to examine one by one. I think in a perfect fantasy world where reflections always play nice with the rest of your composition, the peak would be just a bit to the left to help balance out some of the empty space there. The little rock to the left of the peak makes this impossible, though. It looks like you did great with what you had.

I think you probably improve the balance of the image by cropping a bit off of the left if you are ok with that kind of aspect ratio. Maybe not, just food for thought.

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This resonates with me also, Adhika. I do not look down as much as I should and I know that I have probably missed out on some lovely shots like this one. When I head to Acadia next month I am going to make it a point to look down more than I usually do. The repost with the sharper reflection is the winner for me. You managed to fill the frame very nicely with the rocks, reflection and grasses. I like the fact that you did not let the reflection of the mountain touch those two rocks.Beautifully done.

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Adhika, this is a very evocative photo. It captures beautifully, the sense of early evening/morning coolness and the joy of the bright sun. I think your redo, with more detail in the tree reflections is perfect.

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Thanks, @fwolanski, @Lon_Overacker, @Brent_Clark, @Ed_Lowe, and @Mark_Seaver!

To tell you the truth, I feel a little torn with that rock on the left poking its head out of the water like that but that is nature.

This is one of those images that truly invokes what the Sierra is all about. It’s beautifully done. I do like Brent’s crop suggestion.

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Thanks, @Preston_Birdwell! After reading @Brent_Clark’s suggestion this morning, I played a bit with the crop. I immediately like the tighter crop that Brent suggested but I feel that it’s a little too tight on the left side. Now usually my method is to settle to some of the closest ‘aspect ratio’ but I think for this one I would settle with something not standard:

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I like it! You didn’t change my crop a lot but I too obsess over crops :laughing: It can really make a difference!

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Adhika, I’m really enjoying this scene you captured. Great eye seeing to shoot this the way you did. Love the reflection with the light on the mountain. The reworked image is wonderful.