Hi Deigh! It certainly looks like the perfect morning out there in the high desert of Oregon (a simply lovely place of solitude and ample untapped photo opportunities). You've done a great job retaining the color in the sky and detail in the foreground in a challenging exposure situation. Your image also conveys a nice sense of depth because of the various layers you've included. You're on the right track - just a couple minor adjustments on composition and exposure and you'll be on your way!
You've successfully rendered and clearly communicated your vision of blooming rabbit brush beneath a colorful morning sky. There's little to distract from this primary subject/message...if anything, there may be some excess you could eliminate on either side. See my comments on composition.
Because you've included multiple layers - the foreground yellow bush, midground field, and sky in the background, the image conveys an effective sense of depth and space.
The middle placement of the rabbit brush on the edge of the frame makes the shape more visually static and pulls the viewer's eye out of the frame. For a more dynamic asymmetrical feel, try to position the bush off-centered to the left or right. OR to emphasize the relationship between the blooming rabbit brush and the beautiful sky in the background, a tighter vertical orientation may have been more effective as this format would eliminate a lot of the extra "stuff" on either side of the bush and colorful clouds. For this frame, I'd recommend cropping into a square format
The horizon line is approaching the middle of the frame, so the overall feel to the image feels symmetrical even though symmetry doesn't exist. This confuses the viewer - should we look as the sky or the land? Which is more important? If it's the sky, tilt your camera up higher towards the sky and drop the horizon towards the bottom third of the frame. If it's the land, tilt your camera down towards the field and raise the horizon towards the top third of the frame. If it's both, get physically lower (drop your tripod down) and eliminate more of the midground.
The lines radiating from the sky serve as visual pathways, especially at the top of the frame. But the lack of lines and strong dominant visual objects beyond the yellow rabbit brush in the landscape means we don't see a lot of movement in the bottom third of the image.
Use of camera,
Wind is a reality out there in the high desert. While I'm not certain if you had wind or not while photographing this scene, impressively, your shutter speed, ISO speed, and aperture settings allowed you to render extensive depth of field while keeping the flowering field frozen. Well done!
The white balance for the frame looks great - not too orange, not too blue.
Even though it's subtle and indirect, we still see a contrast between highlight (on the left) and shadow (on the right) which helps convey a sense of depth and dimension across your entire scene. Nice positioning of your camera to tap into shaping side light during the morning.
Although the foreground looks properly exposed, the sky looks unnaturally underexposed, especially when compared to the foreground. If you utilized a graduated neutral density filter to hold back the light in the sky and retain the color, I'd recommend using a slightly less intense filter strength (about a stop of light less) and positioning a little closer to the horizon (so the field isn't as dark). You can easily adjust for this during your post-processing, where I'd recommend lightening at least the middle ground field and perhaps even the sky a touch so the lighting looks more even.
That said, the indirect diffused lighting brings out richer yellows, greens, and browns in the landscape. The rising sun helps to provide added drama with the pinks and blues in the sky.
Everything from the blooming rabbit brush to the distant clouds are in focus. Depth of field looks spot on for this landscape scene.
How to improve your photo
Unless you aim to convey symmetrical balance in your photograph, position the horizon line either towards the bottom of the frame (emphasize the sky) or towards the top of the frame (emphasize the land) to create asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance unites visual elements, symmetrical balance tends to divide.
When using graduated neutral density filters or post-processing techniques, ensure the sky is not underexposed so much so that it looks disconnected from the landscape. A good rule of thumb is that the sky's tonal range should equal or be one-stop brighter than the landscape.
After identifying your primary subject, remember to fill your frame with that subject and eliminate all the extraneous and repetitive details. In this case, your subject (per your comments) is about the rabbit brush and sky...so get rid of everything else so that your visual message comes across more clearly. For this frame, I'd recommend a square crop to accomplish this.
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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...
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