Tiny Forest

I took this photo while on a hike at Carver’s Gap, on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, USA. Going through this tiny forest felt like I was in a fairy tale! I look up and I’m surrounded by a canopy of trees, all around me I could hear birds chirping and bees buzzing. When I breathed in the calming smell of the trees surrounding me was very peaceful. When I got to the end of this tiny forest, I was met with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the mountain range that surrounded us.

Specific Feedback Requested

I’m a beginner trying to gain general feedback about how I could improve my photography skills. I would greately appreciate any and all feedback, either about the image itself or how I could change the technical aspects.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Shot on a Nikon D3000, f/1.8, 1/500th, ISO 200.


Hello, Christina! Welcome to NPN! Sounds like a great hike, especially with a rewarding view at the end! I really like your description of the tiny forest. It sounds really beautiful. I like how you included the forest canopy in the foreground and I really like the stand of trees that look like pines that you are walking towards in the distance. It has a soft look to it. My only suggestion would be to try different settings like a smaller aperture and slower shutter, just to get a bit more depth of field and still have the soft light. I know you’ll get some good feedback on this site, it’s a really helpful community. I know you’ll like it! And feel free to give me and others advice too! Look forward to seeing more of your work! Nice first photo!


Thank you so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it and I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m out shooting! I’m really excited to be involved with this community :blush:

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Hi and welcome Christina. Learning and improving is what we do here and I love your enthusiasm for the outdoors. I feel the same in the woods a lot of the time and I think as you explore the other images here you’ll realize you’ve found your people.

That said, I don’t think this image conveys the joy and wonder you describe. To me it feels more sinister and a little bit scary. Nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if there were other sections of the trail that might line up with the positive energy you felt.

Vanessa is spot on about it being a bit soft because your chosen aperture was so wide. I’m not sure how grounded you are in the fundamentals of photography, but small numbers with apertures mean larger openings, more light getting into the camera and a shallow depth of field. So for landscapes like this, I’d put the aperture toward the middle of the lens’s range - f/8 or so.

Back to your image though, here’s my interpretation of the scene -

Here’s what I did - first a crop and straighten to emphasize the trail and to lose some of the distracting leaves overhead. Then desaturation and adjusted levels in terms of black and white points - this brings up contrast. Then I used a brush to bring down the exposure on the right side of the trail; this keeps the focus on the trail and the very back of the picture. I also added some texture and clarity since the image is soft it needed it. Just down and dirty quick changes - you could play with this more if you wanted.

The log in the immediate foreground is a little distracting just because you didn’t use it as an anchor as well as you could have - logs and things in trails in the foreground are strong hooks for our eyes and can be used to point us through the rest of the shot. You could get a little lower down and a little further back in the case and it would have been a stronger element.

I did all this in Camera Raw in Photoshop. I’m not sure what you have for editing tools, but if you’re only using a Raw editor like this or Lightroom, you can still make images sing without the complexity of Photoshop.

So I’ll quit now. Trail shots are so great and I’m happy you found us and I look forward to your participation (feel free to have at one of my shots!).


Thank you so much for all of your feedback! I really appreciate it. Looking back it at now I can definitely see the sinister look that you’re getting from this. I’ll keep that in mind

Welcome Christina. This is a fine introduction to yourself and your talent. I was really impressed by your attention to what you sensed as you captured this image. The ability to recollect that will be very valuable as you increase your skill in processing images. You will become increasingly able to convey the feelings generated by those sensations to your viewers,
The sinuous path is the element that sings to me. To my eye, the log starts my me into the path.
A viewer’s eye tends to go to areas of highest brightness or contrast. The illumination of the path certainly does that. But also some areas that distract from the path and overall feeling: the out-of-focus, bright leaves in top left; light small branches at the top center; the birch tree; and some of the white light beyond the trees (which is actually green foliage, I think).

Thanks for introducing yourself to us with this image. Looking forward to more.

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Welcome Christina. Sometimes wide apertures can be used to great effect, such as to blur out a BG to focus attention on the main subject, but in this instance I think it detracts from the image. The OOF log and canopy in the FG make it seem like a mistake and not an intentional use. Keep at it.

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Welcome to NPN Christina. This is a fine image but has some issues that have been pointed. I, for one, like the light coming in from the right and don’t consider it a distraction. What caught my eye are the logs crossing the path that you’re inviting the viewer to take. I don’t see them to be a lead into the image but the opposite. They’re a statement. The road is being blocked. There will be things to overcome in this journey. Or the journey will end badly. Personally, I like the logs in the road because the viewer will have such thoughts, whether you meant them or not.

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Thank you everyone for your kind words and critiques! I’m very excited to continue to get feedback the more that I post on here. I’m actually planning to go back to this place in a couple months or so and will take all the advice that I’ve recieved on here and implement it the next time I’m there.

Welcome to NPN Christina. This does look like an interesting forest to explore. You have already gotten some good comments about the specifics of this image, so I’ll offer some general advice instead. When you compose an image in the field, it often pays to perform “border patrol”. Carefully examine the edges of your frame to make you do not have any distractions near the frame edges (they become particularly noticeable at the edges). In this image you have the bright leaves in teh ULC (upper left corner). Bright things near edges sometimes draw more attention than they should, and can become distractions. You already got comments about depth of field and softness. Again these issues become more noticeable in corners or along edges.

I think it also helps to think about what elements in an image are most important to you, and work to find a composition that emphasizes them. To me the forest trees and leading line of the path are the stars, and I think that’s what attracted you too. Then you need to ask yourself if the other stuff in the image add to or detract from the story you want to tell. Only include stuff if it serves an important purpose, or in other words less is often more. The branches at the top, and the log at the bottom add potential distractions. Its often more important to decide what to exclude than it is to decide what to include.