Robert Atkins  

Yosemite Waterfall by Robert Atkins

September 2020 - Yosemite Waterfall

September 2020 - Robert Atkins


About the Image(s)

This image was captured in Yosemite Valley in the late fall. It was shot in 4x5 format on Fuji Velvia 50 film using an old 135mm Graflex Optar lens (about 45mm equivalent in full frame) which is a little soft as a lens from ~1950. Exposure was not recorded but I used a 2 stop neutral density grad, which is clearly visible in the original.

I cropped the final image to the most interesting part, eliminating the dark top corner and the washed out sky. I liked the ethereal feel to the image which I enhanced by lightening and hazing the background rocks while allowing the fall to still stand out. Since it was a little late fall, I enhanced the foliage a bit to bring it in contrast to the ethereal background.

8 comments posted

Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
One of the unfortunate byproducts of a photo critique is that the critiquer often wants the image to conform to his or her own vision. It's too easy for us to say that the crop is too tight, not enough space at the top, needs more contrast, trees are oversharpened, etc. These criticisms might be valid, but I'm a firm believer that my vision is not relevant to yours.
Really though, Bob, you have brought my eyes into a view that I might not have seen if you didn't crop it as you did. You framed the waterfall slightly to the right with a long exposure and cut out all the superfluous. This makes a relatively simple image but with just the right amount of emphasis on the center of interest without neglecting the scene as a whole. You did this by expertly using the foreground trees to frame the waterfall. I appreciate your camera position so the trees have a diagonal drop to the base of the waterfall. A perfect 'V' to frame your waterfall.
Orange, red and yellow are strong colors that attract our eyes. You used yellow in the trees, the lesser aggressive color to pull our eyes back so we can see the entire scene.
I can see that you knew what you were doing when you made this capture. I look forward to seeing, during the coming months, what exciting images you have to present.   Posted: 09/06/2020 13:53:59
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks for the very kind words Dan. I'm not sure I "knew what I was doing" as much as you suggest. I think the crop and some of the other changes are as much to recover from capture mistakes as they are driven by creative decisions. But I'm glad to take what praise I can find. :) I likewise look forward to some great discussions - welcome to the Group.   Posted: 09/12/2020 09:01:52

Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Robert - the clarity, to my eyes, is very good particularly on the (now) foreground trees and I commend your play on the foliage colors. The move to the ethereal is a good response I think to the mist/spray from the waterfall

Unlike Dan, however, I am going to risk presenting my vision and to suggest that the crop is too tight - particularly as the force of the waterfall seems to me to demand more height. I have attached my crop (thanks for the original) with a tonal contrast to separate the rocks from the mist.   Posted: 09/07/2020 17:23:33
Comment Image
Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
I really like your interpretation with your crop, Gerard. It makes for a completely different mood. It's interesting to see different visions of the same subject.   Posted: 09/12/2020 09:00:58
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Thanks Gerard, this is a great alternative rendering. I've been afraid of doing a wider vertical crop because it seemed the sky was too uninteresting. But you've actually brought some contrast to it and shown that could work.

I think the other big difference is the darker more contrasty rendering you have done with the rocks. I have gone back and forth on this one. And there is of course middle ground between what you and I have done with them. On one hand I like the ethereal feel with them lighter, but I think most people would like to see more contrast between the water spray and the rocks. So I'm not sure which direction to go - other opinions from the Group would be welcome.

You have also darkened the evergreen trees in the center (or not lightened them like I did). I do think that one is definitely correct. I went too far lightening them.

Thanks again for your take on this.
  Posted: 09/12/2020 09:10:49
Gerard Blair   Gerard Blair
Glad you liked it. As I think I warned in my bio, I started in photography developing my own B&W images - and there developed a fixation for contrast ... so you are right to dial down the amount I use. I am trying to push back myself, but the old devil keeps whispering in my ear: just a little darker.   Posted: 09/14/2020 08:35:38

Emily Kawasaki   Emily Kawasaki
Wow, these are both amazing images. I like how the cropped, lightened image focuses on the mist over the waterfall. The shapes/brightness/color of the yellow leaves and the muted tones/shades/shapes of the mountain rocks contrast nicely with the white mist are in the mid-ground. The image definitely has a different 'feeling' than the original. However, I also like Gerard's cropping that keeps more of the contrast and shows more of the trees in the foreground - it gives it more "height" (i.e. shows more of the scale of the scene). I think all the images are beautifully shot and would each fit a different mood or sense of decor (i.e. if this were framed and put on a wall). Great image(s)!   Posted: 09/14/2020 10:01:24

Dale Yates   Dale Yates
Excellent photo! The overall composition is very good with the focus on the waterfall and the trees in the foreground. Good details in both the rocks and the mist. I tend to like darker images and as such, in my opinion you may want to consider adding a little more contrast between the rocks and the sky, with the darker rocks also offsetting the mist. Very well done, excellent image! I also like the original image as it a very good landscape of the overall area. In my opinion, you may want to consider this photo as well, perhaps adding some saturation to the yellow trees in the foreground.   Posted: 09/21/2020 12:20:31


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