Our image today comes from the portfolio of David VanKeuren, which you can find here.  David was kind enough to offer this up for review from last weeks session.  As thanks for his submission, David will also receive a free combo pack of the 49 Photo Tips Vols I and II for his generosity (not that he needs it)!  Thanks David!

Picture Lake & Mt. Shuksan

#1 – What rule of composition were used and why?

What’s interesting about this image is that the Rule of Thirds does not seem to be applied, yet there is a certain degree of symmetry, and ROT is all about symmetry.  On further analysis, if you look at the source of the predominant light (the setting sun), the reflection and the original source are near their respective thirds in the frame, so there you go! Additionally, there is great deal of impact due to the symmetry between the original and the reflection in the water.  Symmetry is a powerful element in photography, and using it requires a certain degree of precision for it to be effective.  David appears to do so nicely here though I did not measure things in Photoshop to ensure that.

Other elements of composition that could be present are the sunny-16 rule, and the Golden K.  I don’t want to overlay a guide on this beautiful image, but if you imagine a line going through horizon, and then the peaks to camera right and camera left of the tree line, they produce a nice “K-effect”.

#2 – Are any rules of composition broken?

I wouldn’t say any rules are intentionally broken to produce this shot, but there are some that are not as prevalent as others.  There is one rule that suggests you shouldn’t place a horizon in the middle of an image, but David does so here.  That being said, the effect is one that is ignored due to the reflection in the scene, so I don’t think David said “Hmmm, I know I shouldn’t put the horizon in the middle, but I don’t want to here because…”.

#3 – What camera/lens combo was used?

David reports that the shot was made with the following gear:  EOS 50D with 17-40mm F4L lens mounted on a tripod. ISO 100, remote release.

#4 – What lighting was used?

Although David did not specifically report his lighting used, based on the post production, I am going to guess that this is ambient lighting conditions, as there was some bracketing for HDR-style effects and compositing going on here.  The snowcaps look stuningly white, and these really blend nicely with the setting sun in the background.

#5 – How was it processed?

David reports the following of his production:  ” Shot is an HDR composing of three different exposures. I also used a graduated neutral density filter when taking the shots.”  This brings up a very good point about how the shot doesn’t end with a simple snap of the shutter.  Photographers who are passionate about their work tend to try to get it right in camera, but sometimes the camera simply cannot match what we see with our eye and several exposures are needed to encompass that effect.

This is what allows us to see a wider dynamic range than a sensor, and has also led to such garish results in the field of photography at large.  Effective HDR, in my opinion, is that which you don’t even notice (unless you are looking for it), and David did so here.

#6 – Did You Like It?

I kind of alluded to this already, but the photo here meets several of my criteria for beautiful imagery.  First off, I am a sucker for landscapes, so a point in David’s favor here.  Second, I am also a sucker for reflections, so now he has two going for him.  Third, it does not look like it is over-processed or “hacked together”, so a point here as well in David’s favor.

When photography comes across as a composite, or I say to myself “Yeah, that’s been baked in PS”, it tends to lose a bit of luster in my minds eye.  David has effectively avoided this by some beautiful work. The composition of the photograph is incredible, with an eye toward the lighting, the symmetry, and the ROT.  His attention to detail is impressive as well, given that he took the time to use an ND filter to balance the lighting in the scene, as well as compositing through bracketing for later post production deserves a special nod.

My one nit is that with all the time David took to composite and implement ND filters to get this shot truly perfect, that spot on the water is kind of distracting (lower left).  If it were me, I would have cloned that out.  Some may leave it in as an indication on a very subtle level that this is real, but for me, I’d take it out.  Those are my thoughts…what about yours?  Did you like it?  Not like it?  What worked for you?  What didn’t?  What would you do differently?


Got an image of your own you’d like me to review in the Wordy Wednesday series?  Send me a link to the photo – it can be from your own website, from FLickr, or you can email me a full size image.  Please make sure the image does not exceed 1000px on the longest side.  You can send images to me at jason <at> canonblogger <dot> com.

3 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday #30: Picture Lake and Mt Shuksan

    1. Happy to oblige – and thanks for the contribution! 🙂

      Who’s next?

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