Morning on the Bradshaws

(click to view a little bigger and better in lightbox)

Do you ever have an image where you struggle and struggle with liking it, then hating it, then liking it, then hating it…and…well you get the idea.

I’m sure you do. For those of us blogging on a daily basis, we can’t necessarily post masterpieces every single day. We sometimes have those borderline photographs that we like, but we may not like it enough to actually hit the “publish” button on the blog.

This image is one of those for me. I figured I may as well post it to see what people honestly think. I love it because the scene from this spot up by the Sunset Point rest area was breathtaking in person. It was cold, wet…but the view of the Bradshaw Mountains with the low clouds and fresh snow was mesmerizing. I’ve been wanting to post this one because it felt like the only decent image I came away with that early morning run up north.

But I feel like something is missing…and am not sure what. It could just be the sort of bluish mono-tone the morning had…so the colors aren’t vibrant or striking. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but even if it did, the clouds were too thick to let any real light through.

I don’t usually ask for critiques, but if you got ’em, let me hear ’em.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, f/8, iso 100, 17mm)

19 replies
  1. Kristi Hines
    Kristi Hines says:

    I have a love / hate relationship with most of my images, but I eventually just decide to post them anyway. I like this one personally – just getting into processing, so I’m not sure if anything is missing. I feel like I just want to wait for the sun to come up and for the clouds to clear just a pinch to see what this looks like with some additional light. It looks very cold, yet peaceful.

  2. Jason Hines
    Jason Hines says:

    For me Mike, I think the rocks in front are too large and in charge and they subtract from the mountains in the background which is what I want to focus on. Still a nice image, those clouds are amazing!

  3. steve
    steve says:

    Well… 🙂 Understanding that no critique can tell you what YOU should have done, only how I would have done it….

    The HDR aspect is very nearly subtle enough for my tastes (which you’re already well aware of).
    What strikes me most is that the composition doesn’t quite live up to the drama of the scene. If you’re from Arizona, you look at this shot and think “Wow, snow!” If you don’t have that perspective, I’m not sure you get the “wow.”
    I really like that bit of water in the bowl of the leftmost rock. I think I would have stepped a bit closer and composed looking slightly down in to the rocks. That would add drama to the foreground. It would also, unavoidably, cut in to the sky a bit. That would put things further off balance.
    Anyway, that’s an effect I happen to like.

  4. Chris Nitz
    Chris Nitz says:

    For me, I want to see more of the mountains and those clouds. The bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the image has some nice subjects, but are not really adding to the pop of the foreground. My eye is more drawn to the road and background. I do like how much the green moss pops off the rock on the left though!

  5. Jim Nix
    Jim Nix says:

    Hi Mike, looks like a wonderful scene and I am sure you enjoyed the heck out of being there. Sometimes what we experience live doesn’t translate into the photo. That’s the beauty of HDR too, and your processing is superb. For me, the only thing I notice is that all the lines seem to be mostly horizontal. The rocks, the mountains, the clouds – all seem to go straight across the photo. Not a critique per se, just an observation. Also, I love the texture on the rocks in the FG. Jim

  6. Jim Denham
    Jim Denham says:

    It’s a great scene Mike. If it hadn’t been so wet, the rocks in front may have added a bit more to the composition. Instead, they’re quite dark, with leading dark right up to the snow on the mountains. Don’t know, but it’s still quite good.

  7. Chris Frailey
    Chris Frailey says:

    My thinking is the same as Jason. The foreground seems to compete with the mountains and clouds. I want to take in that beautiful background but the boulders are in my way.

  8. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thanks guys for all the great feedback. You know, I think the giant rocks in the foreground are likely the big part of the problem like you’ve said. What’s funny is that when you look at images in Arizona Highways or other top-notch landscape photography magazines…there is usually some foreground element that you focus on upclose and then you see the great-big landscape behind it.

    I think that was what I was trying to do here, but just didn’t execute properly. As Steve said, the reflection pool in that rock was actually the main reason I shot it like this.

  9. Chris Kenison
    Chris Kenison says:

    I like the image, but I think you’re right… something is missing. I’m glad you included the rock in the foreground. Personally, I feel that the separation from a good shot and a GREAT shot is the foreground element. Something that gives the photo some sense of depth. You’ve done that, but for whatever reason (maybe because of the lack of light or the “colder” presence of the image, I’m still not feeling the depth of the image. Just My 2¢.

  10. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    I can whole heartedly empathize with the love/hate thing. Its tough not posting something you totally love every day because we expect the most out of ourselves.

    With that said, my main issue is the huge foreground rock. Its almost blocking my view of the beautiful mountains in the background and its sheer size is totally dwarfing the rest of the image. Even with that its still a pleasant image but may have benefited from a higher vantage point so the rocks were lower in the frame.

  11. Dave
    Dave says:

    I would agree with a lot what others have said before me. I think the decision to include the large rocks was the right choice but perhaps the angle at which you approached them is too straight on as they come across a big wall stopping you from going further into the picture. Attempting to frame them at an angle may have helped with this, but not knowing the location I’m not sure if it would’ve been possible. I think the main thing though is the poor quality of light, at least for colour. It could be a good candidate for black and white with some careful dodging and burning.
    One of my fave landscape photographers is Joe Corninsh and his book First Light is an excellent read and a mush for any photographer with similar interests. He presents a ‘First attempt’ pic alongside the main ones look at all of the images in the book.

  12. steve
    steve says:

    “Foreground” is like a mantra I chant when I walk around for landscapes.
    A picture of clouds and mountains in the distance is just that, “oh look, pretty.”
    Including the foreground elements is a way of adding dynamism. Foreground places your viewer at the spot where you were standing. You want them to feel they could touch those rocks. If you manage that, even though you include less of the clouds, you will make even the clouds and distant mountains more real and more affecting to the viewer.

  13. Chris DeAngelis
    Chris DeAngelis says:

    Agree with the comments thus far. For me, it may just be a little wide so there is that lack of compression to the scene… The mountains are just SO far away! Those rocks definately have lots of character and I’m glad you put them in the scene, maybe on a different day with different light…

  14. Mark Blundell
    Mark Blundell says:

    Agree with Dave – I like the rocks, but maybe a step or two back to include something in front of them would have worked. The sky and mountains in the distance are lovely, but there is something missing from the middle of the image for me.

  15. Brian Furbush
    Brian Furbush says:

    I can completely hear you on having a hard time with an image…something that resonates with quite a few of us, judging by the comments!

    I would agree with a lot of the others here – I like the rock, but I’d like to see more of the epic clouds/mountains. So either: i.) a step in front of the rock or higher vantage point; or ii.) a lighter foreground to make the image more about the rock compositionally (if you wanted to go that route) might work as well. Just throwing paint at a wall here.

  16. Mike
    Mike says:

    I’m glad I posted this today to get your responses, because it really kind of helped me realize what I didn’t like. Yeah, those rocks are just “in the way.” I actually got close to them because of that puddle, but in reality it wasn’t the best move.

    The other part that is probably hard to see is that just on the other side of those rocks, the cliff dives waaaaay down into that valley. So either way I was shooting off something large in the foreground down into a disappearing valley. So maybe no matter what, the foreground would always look a little too big.

    Really appreciate all the thoughts. I’m surprised with my B&W kick lately, that I didn’t just do this one in B&W. The monotone color of blue kind of calls for it.

  17. Karen
    Karen says:

    I think the rocks at the forefront of the photo took so much space so it looked like it got the focus. The upper half is beautiful!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] image I posted yesterday evoked some awesome comments from you guys about what might be wrong with the composition of the scene. It came down to the […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.