Hi Kristopher! You've certainly started off on the right foot, by pointing your camera at a breathtaking scene. I bet it was awesome to see! I really enjoy this aerial-like perspective. Just a few adjustments to improve the quality of light, to render a more natural color tone, and to set more appropriate exposure settings, and you'll be on your way to a visually pleasing image.
I appreciate the aerial feeling this photography conveys. Certainly, the mountains add a touch of majesty to the overall scene. The river below adds a sense of scale to its dramatic surrounding scenery. I like how you've filled your frame with your primary subjects - mountains, river valley, and river.
You have done a great job placing the river below in the bottom right intersection point of the imaginary Rule of Thirds tic-tac-toe grid. This subtle line serves to pull the viewer deeper into the frame and through the mountains. Also, the balance between the two mountain peaks feels asymmetrical, which serves to unite the two elements in a cohesive arrangement. They also hold the viewer eye in the frame. You've kept all the important parts out of the middle of the frame, so it does not feel static. Good job!
On the right hand side, we have some floating branches that are obvious enough to be distracting, but not significant enough to be an integral part of the overall composition. In the field, perform a "border patrol," where you scan the edges of your frame for distracting elements like bright tones and out of focus objects. Recompose or reposition your camera if you find any offenders. In post-processing, you can crop these out (and I'd recommend doing so), but you won't lose any pixels if you "crop in camera" before snapping the shutter.
Use of camera,
Excellent choice to use a tripod. With a slower shutter speed of 0.3 seconds, you needed to keep your camera steady during the exposure. And your image is sharp as a tack as a result.
Also, good job using a slower ISO. When you are shooting off a tripod and photographing non-moving objects, an ISO 100 is a great choice to keep noise to a minimum in your final image.
Given your distance to your subject and your f/16 aperture, it's of no surprise you captured extensive depth of field. But, you might not have needed that small of an aperture. A small aperture can cause some diffraction and negatively impact your image's sharpness. When you have objects close to your camera in the foreground, a small aperture is definitely necessary. In this case, though, since we don't have much in the foreground, an f/16 would be too small.
To determine what aperture might be more appropriate, I consulted the dofmaster.com depth of field tables: http://dofmaster.com/doftable.html (everything in photography is math; the DOF Master has done all the math for us!). I entered your Pentax K30 camera and your 18mm lens, and then pressed calculate. I'm guessing the mountains in the distance were far more than 100 feet away from your camera. (I'm intentionally ignoring the trees on the right on purpose, since I believe they should be cropped.) Although the charts do not show the f/3.5 aperture (which is your widest aperture at 18mm), given what the chart shows us, we can estimate that the hyperfocal distance is around 16-17 feet. That means if you focus at 16-17 feet, everything from half that distance (i.e. 8-8.5 feet) to infinity will be in focus...at f/3.5! At f/16, the hyperfocal is about 3 feet, which isn't even included in your photograph.
Generally, lenses are sharpest at about 2-3 stops of light smaller than their widest aperture, so generally around an f/8 is a good starting point (unless you need a smaller aperture to render extensive depth of field).
Finally, the image looks to be a little underexposed (too dark). In the field, you'd add a little bit more light, but not so much so that the white snow blows out and starts to blink on your camera's LCD screen.
Because of the mid-day top lighting conditions, we do not see many shadows beyond the one cast on the mountain on the left. Because we do not see a highlight and shadow, we perceive the image to feel flat and dimensionless (even though we can see the depth with our own eyes). Top and front lighting typically render a feeling of shapelessness in photographs. Side and back lighting help to create shape and dimension in this two-dimensional media.
Because of the long shadows (which help create depth in an image) and warmer tones in the light, sunrise and sunset are more preferable times to photograph a landscape scene, unless there is a significant decisive moment or story being depicted during mid-day light. That said, sometimes it's just not possible to visit a location at those more optimal times, so you do the best you can. On partially cloudy days, I'd recommend waiting until a cloud obscures the sun, such that the contrast is not as strong and you render additional color saturation in the temporary diffused light.
Also, the photograph possesses a distinctive blue/cyan cast. A Sunny white balance, or even a Shade or Cloudy white balance setting (which tricks the camera into adding more orange since it thinks it's really blue outside) would have been an appropriate setting for this scene.
Everything appears to be in sharp focus from front to back so your focus placement and your aperture setting for rendering depth of field was appropriate (see comments on aperture setting, though, below).
Taken on a mid-summer day in Glacier, I was trying to project the feeling of awesomeness. The View to the river below should portray how up you feel when looking at this see all >
Taken on a mid-summer day in Glacier, I was trying to project the feeling of awesomeness. The View to the river below should portray how up you feel when looking at this photo.
The shadow on the mountain to the left should give the feeling that an even larger mountain looms - closer and more daunting.
Lens: smc PENTAX-DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL
Exposure time: 0.3 sec , ,
Focal length: 18.0 mm
White balance: As Shot
Date and time: 09 Jul 2014 12:36
Original size: 4913px X 3241px
Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.7 (Windows)
Reviewed by GuruShots Pro
How to improve your photo
Spend time understanding how your aperture setting, focal length of your lens, and your camera-to-subject distance affects depth of field. As you set up your landscape compositions, utilize the dofmaster.com online tables (free) or the app (fee applies) for your mobile device to determine the hyperfocal distance and subsequently the optimal aperture setting.
To help create the illusion of depth and dimension in your image, look for ways to capture side and back lighting conditions on your subjects. Avoid top and front light.
Try to seek out more visual pleasing light for your landscape scenes, like sunrise, sunset, fog, storms/rain, etc. Mid-day light typically presents challenges with flat and harsh lighting conditions.
Conduct a "border patrol" of your frame in the field. If your viewfinder shows less than 100% of your photograph (as many cameras do), then zoom out, do a border patrol, and then recompose.
Match your white balance setting to the conditions you see (e.g. if it's Sunny out, use the Sunny setting). Alternatively, if you wish to add some warmth to your image, use the Shade or Cloudy setting as it tricks the camera into thinking it's really blue out and adds orange (much like a warming filter would do).
Get your photos reviewed by this GuruShots Pro
As a full-time freelance outdoor photographer and writer, my work has been published in National Geographic calendars, Arizona Highways, Outdoor Photographer, AAA Highroads, AAA VIA, Outdoor Photographer, Smith-Southwestern calendars, and a broad variety of other publications. I've written and...
Nature, Adventure, Artistic
Jobs: 8 Jobs