Critique #12 Empress Falls by Alan Daniel
Empress Falls © Alan Daniel
Welcome to another image critique, this month we thank Alan Daniel for sharing his image of Empress Falls with us. Alan says he has shot this many times but on this particular day there was a bit of fog around, he admits he's not totally happy with the image and frustratingly can't put his finger on it. It is certainly going to be an interesting image to critique... here goes.
First the technical:
One of the things we forget when composing is elements in the foreground. As a general rule I teach students to leave some space around objects, the rock in the immediate foreground and the log are both tight in the frame, some more space here gives a better balance and helps those elements to be a stronger part of the image. The other decision to be made with this image would have been how much do we add above the top of the waterfall. I think there is too much but I can see why Alan added it as the fog played an interesting part. The bulk of the composition is fine, actually it is really good, the waterfall leads up the page and the lower cascades are our starting point. The balance works nicely with the foliage on either side of the falls.
A quick re-work
I grabbed the raw and started from fresh. I made basic adjustments to exposure, shadows highlights and contrast. A lot of times when I am making these adjustments I am looking at the histogram not the image. My main goal with RAW adjustments is to have a file with good tonal range and shadows and highlights inside the histogram. Once I had the image in PS I made several selections and worked on specific areas, mainly making them darker or lighter and adding some contrast. I made sure I didn't add any contrast to the foggy part of the image as it would take away from the feel. I also added some length to the canvas and then used "content aware" to fill it, this is a way of adding back that space that we missed on capture.
I tried cropping off the top above the waterfall and I think it is better balanced but we lose the foggy bit.
Alan I think the bit you couldn't put your finger on was the low contrast caused by the fog. Also that fog is mainly sitting up above the waterfall, not over the entire image. The way I tackled this in editing was to add some contrast to the foliage either side of the waterfall, I added some also to the lower cascades, this gave the image a bit of a lift but kept the foggy feel.
Thanks and feel free to share or comment
Thanks Alan for sharing this image with us, quite a complex image and a great one to critique.
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