Haru Nagasaki  


A spring dawn by Haru Nagasaki

September 2023 - A spring dawn

About the Image(s)

The image is taken before the sunrise. The weather was overcast, the cloud action was not so heavy and contrasty, and the wind was not blowing too hard, so the lake showed some reflections. I particularly liked the reflections of the mountain covered by a bit of melted snow, which hinted of season. I also liked the fan shaped trees in the left lower corner. So, I composed all the elements as such. In the post processing, I kept blue tint to some extent, not so strong, but subtle. I thought it would add story.
Looking at this, I feel that it is missing something, do not know why. Is it because of the composition or is it because of post processing. So please help me here by answering the following questions:
Does this composition work for you?
What do you see in this?
What is the center of attention for you?
Is this too busy and complicated for you? If yes, how would you suggest simplifying things?
Any suggestions to make it work or better?
Nikon D850 ISO31 @135mm f22 13sec. tripod


This round’s discussion is now closed!
15 comments posted




Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hello Haru, this must have been a breathtaking scene to come upon. However, I see what you mean where you feel it is missing something. It's missing simplicity. To my eyes, your photo is too busy. All the elements on their own are beautiful, but mixed in all together doesn't work for me. I love the trees and their reflection, the ice on the lake, and the layered mountains. I would like to see separation, especially with the trees.
I would guess that you could not get a higher vantage. This would lessen the conflict between the trees and lake. If there is no higher spot to shoot from, perhaps a drone would work (?)
Of course the center of attention is the brightest area on the lake ice. From there my eyes are confused as to where to go.
You are essentially asking the same questions every month, albeit, often in different ways. This makes me wonder if you are aware of what your purpose is for making your captures. You are obviously very passionate about photography. My suggestion to you, and to myself as well, is try to get out of the "perfect" mindset. Take a few minutes at these scenes, put the camera down and look, smell, taste and feel where you are. It's not easy; boy, do I know.   Posted: 09/09/2023 15:51:46
Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Hi Dan,
Thank you for your comments.
I value your comments/evaluation on the image. I understand your points. I cannot get higher elevation in shooting at this place. And I do not use drone to shoot at this moment. So, my challenge is to produce simpler views with these given circumstances. But reading your comments, I realized now that lake ice was too bright, and the fan shaped tree does not interest you, and still you need more separation between the trees based on your comments. So, thank you for pointing out. I appreciate that.
On the other hand, your later part of your psychological/routine advice does not help me. You are repeating the same advice every month, maybe because you are frustrated that I am not listening or not executing your advice. But I do it on every occasion. But currently the execution of your advice has not borne fruit for me. I need a way to bridge your psychological/routine to produce better/simpler images. Maybe I am missing something. I would really appreciate your help with this.   Posted: 09/09/2023 20:55:14
Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Hi Haru, I appreciate your reply, especially about the psychologic aspect of image making. It's not that I'm trying to hammer you with my point of view every month. Frankly, I don't remember what I write from month to month. When something comes to mind that I think someone might consider, I suggest it.
The subject behind ones thoughts when making photography is a tough one. A lot of people have a difficult time with it, and often times avoid it. It's a concept that doesn't happen instantly. It takes time. I think reading and studying photographers, painters, musician and other artists helps us gradually understand self expression, then transfer it to our own work.
Thinking about what moves me in a scene helps me. I used to shoot a scenes without considering why I was shooting and how I was shooting it. It was more like, "Oh, that's cool", then I fire away. Now, I try to take a breath, slow down and absorb. But at the same time, I try to balance this with my excitement. I never want to loose that passion.
I hope this clarifies what I mean.   Posted: 09/10/2023 10:58:52
Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Thank you, Dan for clarification. It helps. I have been looking for sharing your experience. Experience means "what did you do" to tacle the scene. You produced a lot of nice simple image. I would like to hear your success story. If I can visualize what you did, then, it is easier for me to translate it into my actions. This clarification here answered to my question. Thank you again.   Posted: 09/11/2023 01:37:54



Robert Atkins   Robert Atkins
Hi Haru. I think my compositional comments would be similar to Dan's, that overall it is busy, or at least the front portion is. I love the layered hills and tonality there. I also love the small isolated tree and reflection in the lower left - it has a truly beautiful form. I don't think the bright ice is problematic since you can just darken it down. Interestingly my eye does not really go or settle there but to the high peak in the upper right, perhaps because of the bright snow, but also I think because that area is not as busy. The "busy" aspect comes from the rest of the trees.

So, is there a way to simplify (other than get that drone)? To me the isolated tree in the lower left is the star of the show. All else is supporting. So what about a long pano crop with the top edge just excluding the ice? It could preserve the mountain, but more subtly through its reflection. It also is interesting and draws attention to the "star" tree in that that is the only thing presented as much more than a reflection. Sorry, I'd show you what I mean but I am not in front of Lightroom right now.

I think you are choosing some challenging scenes of late, and I think that is great. I don't know that I am any more successful at such complex scenes than you. I don't know what your thought process is when confronted with a complex scene, but I will offer that I sometimes try to very deliberately make a mental list of the things I like about the scene, and then force myself to understand what I like most among them. The challenge is then to focus on that element and exclude or minimize the rest - that is often hard because I want it all, but that rarely works.

Keep the faith. My experience is also that progress is not often linear. We struggle and then all of a sudden there is a breakthrough. I will say I look forward to seeing your new image each month.
  Posted: 09/10/2023 13:50:26
Dan Mottaz   Dan Mottaz
Very well said, Robert.   Posted: 09/10/2023 16:11:13
Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Thank you, Robert, for your comments and suggestion.
Your suggestion is always easier for me to put it into my action. I apprecaite it very much.   Posted: 09/11/2023 01:44:07



Viren Bhatia   Viren Bhatia
Hi Haru. I agree with Dan & Robert that image has many elements. I like that you have kept a little blue cast on the image. It shows that the sky was overcast. I do like the reflection of the mountain and the trees though both the reflections are getting merged. I am sure you will come across a scene where there are a few elements that would make the image simple.   Posted: 09/11/2023 11:41:46
Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Hi Viren,
Thank you for your comments.
  Posted: 09/20/2023 21:40:43



Bob Wills   Bob Wills
Hi Haru, I'm not sure if your image is a color/mood image or a landscape. It is heavily toned on darks, which blocks eye movement for me.
The landscape image is a dual subject for me. The layers in the mountains and sky are interesting and nicely processed. The tree shapes are sharp and interesting to me. My eye is drawn first to the bright ice, the jumps to the sky and snow. Nothing connects me between these areas. Lastly, I see the reflection in the water. I must admit it is complicated for me to move around, but I think busy isn't the right word. More disjointed than a smooth viewing experience.
I don't usually use histograms during edits, but this image screamed at me to try to push the mountains to the background and pull the tree shapes (and color) forward. The new gradient tool in PSCC would accomplish this better, but for a quick look I just moved the entire histogram to the right.

  Posted: 09/12/2023 09:54:19
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Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Hi Bob,
Thank you for your comments. Appreciate it.
I am not sure that I understand your comments "mood image vs landscape image".
Would you elaborate it a bit more? Sorry to asking.
I understand your second point on histogram. I did not check it. Thank you for mentioning it. I just focused on presenting the "before dawn" mood and did not pay attention on the data.   Posted: 09/20/2023 21:49:05
Bob Wills   Bob Wills
Good question, Haru.
When I look at your image, I see the pervading color blue first, which makes me calm, and feel the morning dawn with you.
Then the subject (landscape) becomes my next view, and then I get the disjointed elements. The upper half is a majestic mountain view, and then dead trees and calm water/ice reflections on the bottom half. Poof, my calm vanishes, and I lose interest.
My image didn't have any real mood, but the mergers of dead and live trees on the mountain reflections could be fixed in PS or by reshooting, standing more to the right if that were possible.
I hope that clarifies what I meant.

I tried a content aware move to mimic shooting more from the right, but with a jpeg, artifacts make it too hard.   Posted: 09/21/2023 09:30:28
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Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Thank you, Bob, for the clarification. I got your points.   Posted: 09/21/2023 23:58:39



Gloria Grandolini   Gloria Grandolini
Hi Haru, it is overall a beautiful image and I can feel the calm and silence and awe seeing the scene. My eyes go to the parallelism of the trees reflected in the lake and the shape of the mountains. I wonder whether cropping the mountain on the left to the point of the peak of the highest mountain, and on the right side cropping until the beginning of the small tree would work. It would simplify image.   Posted: 09/15/2023 15:37:28
Haru Nagasaki   Haru Nagasaki
Thank you Gloria, for your comments. Your comments of eye travel value to me. Appreciate it. I will play around if I can simplifying the image by cropping as you suggested.   Posted: 09/20/2023 23:31:44