The Buachaille Etive Mòr, Scotland- Messy composition?

I took this image earlier this year, while I had a photography/camping trip in the Highlands of Scotland- in the Glencoe area. To me, this is one of my favourite locations, moody, full of history and beautiful landscape. The weather is also pretty unique here, it was snowing in the morning then sunny, summery weather by early afternoon.

I would have never found this location if it wasn’t for the family camping beside me, they pointed out this little swamp to me. I used a Lee BigStopper, a Lee CPL and maybe a 2stop Soft Grad too(can’t remember). I wanted to shoot a different shot of this mountain, there is a very photographer saturated spot nearby, it’s like Mesa Arch in America :slight_smile:

What technical feedback would you like if any?

I am mostly interested of thought re. composition and the editing of this image. I initially was REALLY happy with this shot but now I found my eyes wondering- lack of main subject perhaps?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Anything really…

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

Single image, edited in LR and I may have removed a few bubbles from the water in PS.
Shot with a Nikon D750 + 18-35G lens @ 24mm f/9 30sec exposure ISO 100.

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

Greetings, Zolan! What a gorgeous spot. And that is very cool that the next-door campers directed you to an out of the way view. I’m seriously jealous as I’ve wanted to see Scotland for forever.

Your processing looks really nice to me - I’m partial to that kind of flat light. And I don’t think the composition is too messy. The patch of reeds takes me to the right-hand rock, then to the left-hand rock, then the mountain. The subtle color palette is perfect.

What does strike me compositionally is that the frame seems heavy on the left side, with all the main features there (reeds, larger rock, mountain). I tried some different crops and it still looked left-weighted even at 4x5 ratio. Perhaps if there had been some negative space between the left rock and the reflection of the mountain the heaviness wouldn’t be so pronounced - right now they combine into one visual mass. At any rate, it is a lovely scene and I hope you can share more from here.

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Hi Bonnie! Firstly, you know that people here say “Bonnie Scotland”!!! :slight_smile:

Secondly, thank you so much for your input, I really appreciate it! It’s actually funny that you noted that everything is on the left hand side of the image, this must have been my problem through this trip as I have other shots, from a different location, with the same compositional “fault”. To be honest, here the tripod sat in the swamp, and I was half in the swamp too :slight_smile: - probably if I shot it a bit more from the right, this would have allow me to create a bit space between the rock and reflection!( well spotted). I am planning to revisit this location in the near future so I might re-shoot this.

Re editing, the light, the feel and everything(probably the way I felt too) lead me to this type of processing, a fancy saying it looks a bit like a painting:)

If you ever come to Scotland, this place is a Must see!


Oh, I’m glad you’ll be able to go back here. Worth a re-visit in my book!

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This is a 4:3 Crop… What do you think?

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Welcome to NPN! A beautiful first landscape post. Of I haven’t been there, but your processing looks excellent and I have no suggestions there. Well done.

I think the composition is solid too, although we all have our thoughts and it’s so easy second-guessing from the passenger seat… I think the primary interest is the left 2/3’s or so. The symmetry of the peak and reflection as well as the reeds in the water - and a decent sky all balance together nicely. Now there’s nothing wrong with the slope on the right, but if it were mine I might be tempted to crop enough to reduce the empty LRC - lower right corner. Maybe up to the first set of plants in the water. Alternatively, I like the long slope directing the eye to the peak and so wondering what a pano crop might look like cropping from both top and bottom. Just a thought.

those are just alternates and may or may not improve things I really like what you’ve posted.

thanks for sharing and we look forward to more and your contributions.


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Hi Lon,
Thank you very much! I will be honest to you, I came across NPN through the F-stop Podcast and so far I’m loving the community feeling here! I am pretty stunned that the PP seem to be spot on, I am sure there would be millions of other ways to edit it though but I am content with this.

It’s almost funny that I just noticed that a good few images have the same composition issue where everything is on the left! Even more, I put the phone to my left in the office, never noticed this until today! Maybe it’s my brain :slight_smile:

I will definitely take all the suggestions on board as they all make sense! By the way I can’t believe the quality of the photographs that the others are sharing! Still shocked a bit and feel a bit overwhelmed! Hopefully I can contribute to the community in time!

Thank you,


This is a good bit cropped, still the same ratio.

I actually feel like I need that right slope to remain in the picture, it also allows the eye to wonder into the distance with any uncomfortable feeling. However that little tiny bit of slope on the left hand side annoys me! Am I being too persnickety??

Hi Zoltan, welcome to NPN. I really like the starkness of the Scottish Highlands. (and their Scotch, if I’m being honest ). I think I like the version that was cropped the most (Lon’s suggestion). Sometimes less is certainly more. It’s nice that you can revisit. I think you have a wonderful image as is, but going back armed with some input, it could really be good. Looking forward to seeing more images from Scotland.

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Welcome Zolan! I’ll echo that this is a great first image; hope to see more.

Lots of great crop suggestions above. There is a lot of drama and starkness in the landscape, and I think the sky could handle a bit more contrast to accentuate that mood. If you do that, you’ll need to adjust the reflection to match; here’s a quick and dirty example of my thoughts:

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Thank you John! See, these small but quite impact-full adjustments that I need to get used to knowing when and where to apply. Thank you for your input, I greatly appreciate it! I am used to LR and for a long time I only did global adjustment, it’s only in the past few months I started to play with local ones, I have a lot to learn re processing for sure :slight_smile: Thanks again, Zoltan.

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Welcome to NPN, Zoltan, and wonderful first post. I prefer your 4:3 crop best. I feel the grass in the foreground is an important part of the image. I like John’s suggestion for the sky and water a lot and think it helps a lot, but I would apply it to the 4:3 crop version. A very enjoyable image and I hope to see more posts from you.

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Hi Bill, thank you a lot.

It’s probably unbelievable, but I only came across to NPN a week or so ago through a Podcast… Wish I found this years ago as I feel I can learn a lot from you guys with more experience. First I was so happy with my photo with the original crop but then I noticed that it was somewhat imbalanced, then cropping was recommended and I like that 4:3 too -with the darker skies/ water reflection! I posted another from this location and after it was pointed out here, I noticed that that one had the same “everything on the left” issue :confounded:

Thank you for your input!


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