Dan Mottaz  


 Stepping to the Edge by Dan Mottaz

October 2021 - Stepping to the Edge

About the Image(s)

In recent years, I am more aware of mood and emotion in art. Particularly, in the photographs I produce, I try hard to capture the mood of a scene. I look for the right light, think about what angle works best, and almost more important, calm my mind.
I have been returning to this patch of the Cascade Range in Oregon for many years looking for those elements that make for a moody image. Every time, the scene is different. Water level, atmosphere, sunrise, or sunset, who I'm with - or if I'm solo - always changes things. Here, I put a lot of emphasis on the foreground as I often do. I tried to create a 3-dimensional feel. It was almost dark when the capture was made requiring a 5 second exposure at f/22.
Three exposures were made. The first was the general shot, but with an eye on the sky's color. Then, a few minutes later a darker lit shot. And finally, I changed the focus point to the foreground volcanic rock. It sounds like this is all perfect planning, but honestly, I just shot and shot, changing focus back and forth as the light changed. In post, I simply chose the best shots and put them together.


8 comments posted




Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Wow! This is excellent, Dan. Well done.
This is just like a winning images I have seen in the landscape photo contest in the past.. It is sharp throughout, crystal clear, best light, and good compositions.
The foreground rocks shows triangle/diagonal line to the mountain and you have 4 layers to enjoy my eyes - foreground, reflections, mountain, and cloud actions. It is filled with unique components but structured nicely.
I admire your patience of revisiting again and again to wait for the best scene. I think your effort now bear fruits. Congrats.
Having said that, starting from here, this is just my personal preference, so please bear with me for a moment.
At first, I am a bit uncomfortable to have a wider space in lower right. So I would crop a bit.
Second, for me, the contrast/clarity is a bit strong. Especially the clouds has very strong impact. I like the fog/mist at the back and would extend it to the pond by Gaussian Blur. Also I would desaturate the sky and soften it. This would deliver a different story. I am attaching my attempt here.
I am just manipulating it without being at the spot so my comments might not be valid.


  Posted: 10/01/2021 08:06:15
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Bev Caine   Bev Caine
(Groups 48 & 80)
Great image. Did you manipulate the color or was that the way it was? Just beautiful   Posted: 10/03/2021 08:48:07



Bob Monnin   Bob Monnin
I really like this photo. Composition is good, it's clear and sharp and I can see the reflections in it.

It's surprising that my eyes were drawn to the reflections on the lake and not to the rocks in the foreground. Very unique.

I do agree with Haru in that the foreground could be over to the right just a bit, maybe a little more centered. But that's my thoughts. Overall, this is a good image.
  Posted: 10/05/2021 11:55:44



Bob Wills   Bob Wills
I think you've captured the mood of the Cascades quite nicely. The color palette you used especially creates a sense of calm and quiet for me. The entire scene is in sharp focus, the lighting is good and there are nice layers. This should get plenty of acceptances.
While I know many judges harp on sharpness, I think in a 2D medium we must sometimes allow some blur to create depth in our images.
In this image the Three Sisters competes with the foreground rocks in Scott Lake because the detail is all the same to me (I may have the wrong area.) The entry into the image comes from the right and then is stopped after the mountain. There is no path for my eye to get to the foreground, as the end of the lake is so dark. If I come into the image from the rather dark foreground, I still get stuck trying to stay in the frame.

Don't get me wrong as I wish I could make images this good, and I'm just throwing ideas at you. I think I'd remove the two trees in the center also. Excellent work, Dan.   Posted: 10/05/2021 14:03:55
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Bob Wills   Bob Wills
This is with a radial blur, and a radial spot from the foreground.
I forgot to mention that there are great shapes within your frame.   Posted: 10/05/2021 14:06:47
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Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Dan this is beautiful. You always do a very careful, considered job of composition, and this image is no exception. The leading lines of the foreground rocks, as well as how they fit with the opposing shapes and angles of the background reflection, showcase that careful thought. I think you are consistent also in carefully handling color. The saturation is crisp without being overdone. There is also a limited color palette which simplifies things and achieves excellent harmony. I think that is also a common element of your images - do you deliberately limit colors in post (desaturating or shifting hues to simplify)? Finally, there is effective use of blacks. You don't shy from letting some things go to black while preserving detail where it is needed.

If I am looking to really nit pick, there is a brighter greenish spot on the left of the rocks - I'd clone that out but only because my eyes keep going there. But that's all I can come up with. I wouldn't change anything else.

I wish I could visit such a location again and again. Of course it takes more than that to pull off such an amazing image.   Posted: 10/08/2021 20:00:05
Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Dan, I went back to look at your image again - who wouldn't it so beautiful - and one other small thing I noticed. If I carefully compare the reflection to the sky, matching up points, the reflection is brighter (and I think physics says it can't be). It is very hard to notice because the brighter water seems to balance the brighter portions just above the background terrain. Maybe this is coming from how you blended the exposures? I guess I might try to correct it, and see how it looks. If it destroys the sense of light, I might just leave things alone even though it is a little unnatural (to a physicist).
  Posted: 10/09/2021 19:37:57



Cheryl LaLonde   Cheryl LaLonde
Hi Dan
This is a really spectacular image. I agree with everything that Robert has said. You always have great foregrounds. In this it feels slightly heavy in the foreground though (see my crop of the foreground below) and to my eyes (remember I really love to have lots of sky...and it is just my taste) would love to see more sky. I admire your eye when it comes to leaving the shadows sometimes. In this case I think if you were to bring up the shadows around the trees it would take away from the mountain and reflection. The mist on the water is perfect as well. Very beautiful image.   Posted: 10/09/2021 00:03:02
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