Critique/Feedback - Lake Serene's Natural Beauty


TPF Noob!
Oct 13, 2015
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Washington State, USA
Can others edit my Photos
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Hey Guys!

Glad to be on this site now, hopefully I'll get some good critiques to take my photos to the next level!

I originally posted the attached photo to a Reddit forum (\r\photocritique) trying to find some good critique. They suggested that I darken the shadows and increase the tonality curve to help bring depth and color to the image. This is the end result:


Also, others mentioned that the left sky feels a bit empty and would like to see the logs lead into the photo somehow.

What do ya'll think?

EDIT: Here is the photo I sent the Redditors:
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Since I didn't see the original, it's hard to know if your edit helped it or not.

Finding just the right position to point the logs toward something interesting is one thing, pointing them at a patch of empty sky is quite another, and seems pointless.

There is one thing I think is odd; the reflection of the slope with snow (center of frame) is lighter and a different color than the actual slope. Why is that?
Thanks for your response!

I believe the reflection is different because the water was turquoise in color and the mountain was colder (bluer hue) in color than the water (greener hue). Then again, this is a 7-bracketed HDR and maybe that has some play?!
What was the exposure difference between each image? Using 7 images, it's unfortunate that you were able to get a good exposure on the clouds.
I did 7 exposures, 1 full stop apart. (-3, -1, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3) Am i saying that right?!

I'd have to check my original Lightroom HDR merge to see if the clouds were exposed good. I think the contrast increase messed it up!

Great note about the clouds! Thank you tirediron!
First... beautiful image!

What software are you using to process this?

In Lightroom, a quick nudge on the "clarity" slider will achieve the result you wanted. "Clarity" is lot like contrast except it only stretches the mid-tones of the image to increase mid-tone contrast... but leaves the shadows and highlights alone. This is important because as I look at the histogram for your image, I see it already runs from edge to edge on the histogram, so an arbitrary boost of contrast would start clipping your shadows & highlights, but you can stretch the mid-tones to get the effect you want -- in a single slider adjustment.

Lightroom CC (and only CC... Lightroom 6 doesn't have this feature) has a "Dehaze" adjustment which can be selectively applied. E.g. grab the paint-on adjustment brush, bump up the "De-haze" slider and then start working the haze out of the mountain on the far side of the lake.

I think the sky is just a bit bright, but that's easily remedied. You can use Lightroom to apply a "Graduated Filter" adjustment. Drag a line diagonally from the upper left corner toward the center and you'll see three lines appear... you wan these to be roughly parallel to the line of the mountains. The closer the three parallel lines (you can move them after placing them) the more rapid the graduated adjustment. The farther apart... the more gradual the adjustment. Make sure the list of adjustments in the graduated adjustment panel are all centered (meaning no adjustments) except for the "exposure" adjustment... which you can knock down by somewhere around 1/3rd stop to perhaps as much as a 1/2 stop. This will "darken" the sky and create a bit more drama in that area.

I am noticing a bit of a halo effect around the pines at the left edge (where they meet the sky). That can often happen if an image is over-sharpened. Did you apply sharpening there? If so, you may want to back off the sharpening a bit.

Lastly, I notice the mountains on the right and trees on the left are strongly leaning inward. This is because you used a wide angle rectilinear lens and the lens was pointed slightly upward (pointing "upward" on the lens causes a lean "in" pointing "downward" causes a lean "out" and keeping the lens perfectly level will result in no leaning.) The "shift" control on a tilt-shift lens can **** the image so that you capture the area of the image "as if" pointing upward, but without the "lean" problem of a normal wide-angle lens.
Hey TCampbell,

You sure picked out the things I was worried about! Thank you!

I didn't even think about the barrel distortions. There must not be a way to fix it if Lightroom didn't already.

I think I may have just done too much to the photo. I'll start again from the base HDR (created in Lightroom CC) to see what I can come up with after considering all these good critiques!
I don't really find the image interesting and have a number of problems with it as I do with most HDR stuff. Any image with a dynamic range that's above that of a modern digital camera usually means you're shooting into the light and deep shadow, and the problem with deep shadow is the lack of usable colour information. You've done an admirable job, but if you look in the foreground most is in shadow and only contains tertiary colours, (colours of no really discernible hue), and it's difficult to change this. Also, as TCampbell noted, I have a problem with the heavy inward tilt caused by the upward angle of your WA lens, it is a little extreme.
Because you've shot into the light and shadow, the area of brightness and the one that draws your eye is the top right of the image, my eye is drawn away from the depth and area of interest.
These are the main problems I have with HDR, not it's usage but that you're drawn into a cycle of trying to capture an impossible range of tones and the technical process of doing this whilst loosing sight of the picture as a whole. As Ansel Adams would say, "all you've achieved is a good test print."
Another photographer could go there tomorrow with a low sun behind his shoulder, a single press of the button, full colour and contrast, great modelling in the clouds, etc...

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