Picture Lake Fall Reflection 1

Picture Lake Fall Reflection 1, Mt Baker-Snoqulamie National Forest, Washington

Last week, I helped 2 photography clients from Mexico City experience and shoot Washington’s fall colors. With all of my travels out of state, I no longer have as much time to shoot when I am home, so it was nice to do some photography in my old stomping grounds in the Cascades. For some reason, every time that I have been out shooting in the last month, I have experienced clear blue skies which has made dramatic light conditions very difficult to find. Of course, there are worse things than driving around in the mountains on sunny days. On the first day of our time together, precipitation clung to the North Cascades as I drove up I-5 to Picture Lake.  I thought that our timing would be ideal for photographing fall colors and was not disappointed. As the clouds swirled and briefly parted late in the afternoon, my clients and I were able to photograph Mt Shuksan’s perfect reflection. The sun sets behind a mountain ridge at about 4:30, causing the foreground and trees on the opposite side of the lake to usually become too dark, but on this afternoon the lifting fog helped to soften the harsh shadows. I used my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer slightly backed off from full polarization along with my Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter placed above the foreground foliage to balance the exposure. I also chose to photograph this scene with my Carl Zeiss 35mm f2 ZE lens in order to keep Mt Shuksan from becoming too small in the overall composition while still being able to have enough depth of field at f16 to include the foliage along the shore in the foreground.

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    Hi Jon,

    Nice image. Like the scenery. I would like to discuss the image and make my amateur point in regards to a pro taken photo. Would you mind my opinion here ?

    Thanks for asking, Marko. I always tell everyone that I can tell you what is wrong with every photo that I’ve ever taken. Photography is always about compromise and the pursuit of perfection. I’m always open to constructive criticism when discussing my work, so please share your thoughts.

    Thanks Jon. First of all I would like to point out that I would take (nearly) the same framing as you did. What I would improve is probably more related to post-processing that to the actual capture. I’ll also share my point of view and I’m looking forward for your reply as this would improve my understanding of landscape photography.

    I’ll start with the main subject of the shot which should be more pronounced in regards to the strong focal point in the background. As the photo title suggest the shot is about reflection and the post processing should help to lead the eye directly towards it. In my opinion there are two (three, see below) things that are distracting.

    The first is the selection of the background. A mountain with very bright sky is a strong focal point. This is also reinforced by the trees in front of it as they form a natural frame to the mountain.

    The second is is the brightness ratio between the reflection/mountain. I would probably darken the mountain a bit to help keeping the eye in the center of the image.

    The third is related to the foreground. I’m a strong advocate of foregrounds that introduce the photo. If they are used for this purpose (as this shot) the foreground should pleasant and as much as possible homogeneous. This photo’s foreground has it all, but it has a little hole on the left bottom side. This hole draws the eye back from the reflection and the eye is constantly moving from the reflection to the mountain and back again to the hole. Not really a huge thing, but is not perfect. I would either frame a little bit higher thus loosing the proportions in the frame or (maybe better) clone it in post processing.

    Huh 🙂 Again. This is my view of perfection. But we know. Nature is not perfect. Nor is my eye equal to some others eye.

    What do you think ? Am I heading to the right direction or I’m totally missing the point here.

    Thanks for your time. It’s a pleasure to discuss and share opinions of such things for me.


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