In my dreams...
by: © Ana Isabel Martinez
Hi Ana Isabel! Excellent work executing your artistic vision of the intriguing tree forms and the path leading to the light! Your effective use of light and lines truly created a magical image that persuasively invites further exploration and plentiful curiosity. Just a slight repositioning of the camera and a little more extensive depth of field could perfect an already compelling image. You're definitely on the right path - pun intended - with this photograph!
Great job in filling the frame with your subject such that there's no question what the viewer of your photograph should look at nor where our eye should travel within the image. There are no extraneous elements distracting the viewer from the primary subject. Well done!
I particularly enjoy how the trees trunks in the foreground appear straight, then gain more character and visual interest as we walk along the path to the right to "discover" the light in the background. The straight tree trunk in the background on the far right of the frame serves as an effective anchor in keeping our eye within the photograph - without it, we'd walk out of the frame as fast as we walked into it! The combination of trees also frame the light in the background well.
Because the light in the background is dominating, I'd recommend taking two to three steps to the left to position the camera such that the light falling in the middle of the frame is eliminated or at least minimized. This brighter area stops the viewer along the path, when the "payoff" (the light at the end of the path) is really somewhere else in the frame. Try to hide this middle bright area among the tree trunks by repositioning your camera slightly.
I enjoy how the brighter light falls off-centered, as this creates an asymmetrical balance with the mystical trees. Typically, we'd like the line/path to lead the viewer to something or somewhere of importance. However, with this image, I like that where you've taken us is a bit obscure and hazy, or as you described, dreamlike. There's a sense of curiosity triggered within as a result - what's back there?
Use of camera,
Though you've collected an appropriate amount of light during your exposure for this scene (albeit darker, and that's OK to set the mood in your scene!), the camera settings used to capture this light are curious to me. Were you photographing off a tripod?
If you were photographing off a tripod (recommended for maximum camera stability during an exposure of non-moving subjects and to record broader depth of field), Despite the scene overall falling in very low light, ISO 1250 seems
If not, the settings seem more reasonable, save for the aperture, which I'll cover in Depth of Field section below. Because of the darker scene, you've maximized your ability to collect as much light as possible thru your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO while hand-holding the camera.
To squeak out a smaller aperture (see Depth of Field section), keep in mind the rule of thumb for hand holding a camera is that your shutter speed should not be slower than "1/focal length of your lens." This means - given a steady hand - you could have hand held this shot at 1/50th of a second ("1/50mm focal length of your lens). Likewise, if you were photographing this scene with an 18mm lens, the setting would change to 1/18th of a second (rounded to 1/20th). Or if using a 200mm lens, the setting would be 1/200th of a second. By knowing this rule of thumb, you could have slowed the shutter speed for this shot to 1/50th of a second and adjusted the aperture at least 1-stop of light (to ~f/7.1, and thus, recorded a broader depth of field) while maintaining ISO 1250.
The center of the photograph is in sharp focus, but the foreground and background appear a little soft to my eye. With a broader landscape photo such as this, generally speaking, we'd like the entire frame to appear sharp.
Using a smaller aperture and focusing about one-third into the frame (from the bottom) would help maximize the depth of field. To precisely pinpoint where you should focus given your camera, lens, aperture, and focusing distance, consult the free customizable tables at DOF Master at http://dofmaster.com.
The interplay of shadow and light create the exact mood you've aimed to achieve. The dappled light falling on and in between the dark trees combined with the bright light in the background certainly contribute effectively to your desired "dreamy" mood. The white balance and color recorded looks spot on as well.
My only suggestion for improvement with the light would be to reposition the camera such that the middle bright area is minimized or eliminated, as mentioned in the Composition section.
How to improve your photo
Visit the DOF Master website at http://dofmaster.com to construct custom depth of field charts for your camera and lenses to see how various apertures and focusing distances contribute to rendering the desired sharpness for your subjects.
Only hand-hold your camera at shutter speeds faster than "1/focal length of your lens" (e.g. if 50mm, then the shutter speed should be faster than 1/50th of a second)
To gain more flexibility with your exposure settings (in this case, a smaller aperture/more extensive depth of field), photograph from a tripod when photographing broader, non-moving landscape scenes, particularly in low lighting situations like darker forests, sunrises, sunsets, etc.
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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...
Nature, Adventure, Artistic
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