Winter Light

I have been making a habit of stopping the car to get a shot if I see something that catches my eye. As I was driving towards my chosen destination for my shoot, the sun was starting to get low in the sky and was just about to dip behind a peak. I saw that on the side of the lake that a row of trees were getting lit up, with some of the surrounds in shadow.

I stopped but as I set up the tripod the light went. Luckily it came back and i got a few shots in.

I used the grad filter to darken down the background a bit. In hindsight I would have liked to used a further grad upside down to darken the foreground a bit am not sure its necessary.

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I like the mood of this shot but am open to some suggestions on how to enhance it. Or do you guys find it good?

Any pertinent technical details:

Sony A7ii | Sony 70-200 F4G
183mm | f/8 | 1/8s | ISO100
Circular Polariser
0.9 soft grad

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

Eugene, those are some great looking trees; very expressive I think. Good call on the stop to photograph the scene and light. The large view opens up nicely. I like the progression in height of the trees and how that coincides with the direction of light. Good call on the grad as well.

Nothing you could do at the time, but the biggest distraction for me are the sheep. Easily cloned out of you’re so inclined, but then are indeed part of the scene and environment. If anything perhaps cloning out the blue paint… :wink: I think you have room, but you might consider cropping in from the right to eliminate the bright water…

Most certainly worth the stop chasing the light.


Thanks Lon!! Yeah the arrangement really of the trees really caught eye too. I had seen them before but not really though about shooting them as a subject before.

Yeah, they distract me too but I’m always reluctant to clone stuff out as they are part of the scene. It can quite a dilemma for my head. I’ll have to sleep on that one :rofl:

I cropped in a bit a killed off some of the highlights in the water - not sure how I missed that one.

Thanks again for all the feedback :slight_smile: I’ll post an edit up in a bit

I’m a huge proponent of stopping while driving…we only have 1 chance to capture things most of the time :slight_smile: This light and scene is rad. The bright water though is pulling my eye away from the goodness. Maybe crop or maybe burn? Nice.


I’m glad you chose to stop to shoot, the light here is pretty special. The side light on those trees really makes them pop against the darker background of the mountain. Your processing of this light is spot on as well, I especially like the processing of the mountain, it has just the right level of luminosity. I think the more you can simplify this image into a study of light and shadow, the better it is. Hence Lon’s suggestion to clone away the sheep and hot water on the right. I would crop away some from the right and the top, to make the trees appear even larger in the frame, perhaps something like this (sheep gone too)

@Aaron_Feinberg and @Ed_McGuirk - thanks to you both for leaving some feedback on this. Apologies too for taking a while to reply but life got in the way :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Aaron - i nearly crashed the car when I saw the light it was so good. Glad you like it!! I totally agree on the bright water. I had cropped it out already but managed to post the wrong image.

Ed - yeah me too. I’d been struggling to find cool comps recently and was glad to get this . Cheers for the feedback on the processing. Agree with you statement on keeping it simple and emphasising the light/shadow play. It can make or break the shot. After some long and hard soul searching I have gone with your and @Lon_Overacker suggestions to remove the sheep. I don’t usually like removing elements that can naturally occur in the scene but I thought I’d try it out and see. It’s definitely better. I guess they are transient objects so they may not have been there at another point, but then the same could be said for the light. In terms of the tighter crop. It was my intention for the trees to appear smaller in the scene. Mostly to give a sense of space as you come into the image from the right. It also emphasises the trees getting larger as you move through the scene.

Edited image below

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Im actually just editing a tighter crop of the trees (shot at a longer focal length) and it has a completely different feel to it. I’ll drop you a note when its done

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Those sheep are so bright white they compete with the trees, it makes a big difference in the mood of this image by cloning them away. Many of us here clone away small distracting elements, if it improves the image. NPN is not quite as strict as some photo contests in that regard.

@Ed_McGuirk totally agree on that. I definitely think the image looks better without them. Much cleaner. I guess my issue with cloning things out is more a question of personal ethics for me rather than rules for competitions, etc. I tend not to clone static objects out of images and will even go out of my way to exclude them from compositions sometimes. I this case I didn’t really have a choice; get the light with the sheep or no shot at all. I’m definitely easing in the cloning stuff out department as I’ve realised I’ve maybe missed some great shots because of it