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Chasing Waterfalls

By Meta_Morph
The photo is taken at Aber Falls, Snowdonia on my Summer holiday with a mobile phone camera. The weather was typically English, but meant the waterfalls were in full splendour.

Shot is pretty much as taken with adjustments in LR to reduce exposure and highlights and balance the histogram ( I know I need to work on getting this right in camera )

Couple of areas I am seeking advice on
1. the sky is problematic, due to over exposure, I have tried to resolve still isn't quite right
2. The composition is unusually long ( ultra-wide but portrait ) as I wanted a sense of the journey to the falls and to invite the viewer in. Does this work, or not?

Grateful for your constructive feedback on the image, and as ever keen to learn to improve.

Hannah 😀

Tags: Waterfall Waterfalls Landscape and travel

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I think the composition is very good. The path and bridge lead you to the falls and it's a refreshing different take on a popular much photographed falls. Nothing much you can do with the sky unless you're far better on a PC than myself. If I were taking it, and believe me I would be more than pleased with that image, I would have used a neutral density grad filter on the camera to keep some detail in the sky, but that's using a DSLR which makes it an easier option.

Photography is all about the capture, the light and composition. That, my friend, is bloody good image.
10 Dec 2021 9:11PM
@LittleTaffia - Thank you so much for your kind comments much appreciated 😀 I have proper camera and an ND filter on my Christmas list hopefully Santa will be generous this year! 😊
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
10 Dec 2021 9:19PM
Hello again, Hannah -

I like the composition, though I wish it encompassed just a fraction more on the right.

Technically, it's possible, I think, that using something like the Halide app would allow you to shoot RAW files, and give yourself more latitude with processing extremes of contrast. Alternatively, maybe you can bracket exposures, and combine the images later to produce a true HDR image. And your mobile may have an HDR mode of its own - worth a try, at least.

Last resort is a camera with a wider range of tones recordable: and it's an area where a larger sensor, physically, has an advantage. But that isn't as convenient as a mobile, I know (personally, I'd use my Sony Alpha 7 to make phone calls if I could, but that's another matter...)

Long and tall is fine, I reckon (but then, I posted a vertical panoramic nude this morning, shot with a film camera).
10 Dec 2021 10:39PM
@Dudler - Thanks for your comments. I have worked out how to take RAW on the mobile but it won't do this or allow any other manual features on the ultra-wide lens. Good idea to look at an app to see if this is way around, but probably time to get a proper camera.

I had heard you can replace skies in Photoshop? Is this possible - I have this app, but it is quite challenging to use compared to lightroom and crashes every time I try to use it. Suspect I don't have enough RAM.


mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.4k 2543 United Kingdom
10 Dec 2021 10:55PM
Hello again.

First of all, I like this. It does what vertical format ought to do, it starts at our eye-level and leads the eye gently upwards to the sky. Now a few random comments.

About fifteen years ago I was posting similar format here and I had an argument with a member who insisted that it was unnatural for the eye to view. I pointed out that it was the standard for medieval stained glass windows, which are all about narrative, story-telling, involvement.

The sky looks perfect to me. It has a hint of colour, but it is restrained, discreet, it sits back, it doesn't intrude. Which is just what a background should do. It doesn't compete for attention and that's important! Please be very cautious about replacing it, because chances are it will look frankly awful. Beware of the 'because I can' approach to processing.

I would just like a few more pixels on the right, because that's where the path turns onto the bridge. You are taking us along a route, we need space to turn comfortably. Plus a bit more of that bracken triangle would fill the bottom right corner nicely.

Otherwise - well done!
10 Dec 2021 11:59PM
@mrswoolybill - Thanks for your feedback and encouragement Moira, much appreciated. I found another shot (uploaded), which has more to the right, but less of the braken unfortunately, do you prefer this? It is quite challenging getting composition right in the field, especially with an impatient teenager on your case - (family holidays!) 😀
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.4k 2543 United Kingdom
11 Dec 2021 8:10AM
What a difference a tiny change in angle can make! I'm split between the two, because the second image has more path but less bracken, and I do think that bottom right corner is important, it holds the composition down. Also the colour in the second image is markedly colder, more wintry, and this was taken in August according to the Exif.

Impatient teenager? You should try photography with an impatient 60+ brother-in-law... Wink
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2268 United Kingdom
11 Dec 2021 2:58PM
Hello again, Hannah.

Don't worry about the sky, it looks ok. However, I have done a modification (my second one) with the sky removed, just to show you what it might look like with just greenery at the top. Sometimes, if a sky is bright, it leads the viewer's eye upwards instead of the eye starting from the bottom and moving up the waterfall.

So, my first modification has canvas added to the right side. I feel the format is too tall, that's why I tried this. Then with the bit of sky removed in the second mod, the format felt a lot more comfortable to my eyes. Just a few suggestions. It's a fine image, done really well with a phone.

Thank you for uploading the other version, but I chose to modify the first one because I liked the angle better, and also the foreground ferns.

chase Plus
17 2.4k 638 England
11 Dec 2021 3:00PM
I prefer the warmth of your original upload tbh.
If you are not content with the sky...I think it looks ok for what it's worth, then try a simple crop as I have done in my mod.
I also flipped it simply because it sat better that way for me and the viewer is going further into the image rather than straight out.
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2268 United Kingdom
11 Dec 2021 3:03PM
Haha, Janet has also removed the sky, just 2 minutes after my own commentSmile.
capto Plus
10 7.1k 32 United Kingdom
11 Dec 2021 3:27PM
Getting everything right in camera is always best, but it seldom happens for me, and many others I guess. That's why Photoshop was invented [other software is available]. I have done a mod increasing the width and adding a sky, 'cheating' maybe, but if you can't repeat the shot and if it's for your own pleasure why not. I think your shot is great as it is.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
11 Dec 2021 3:29PM
I like Pamela's mod, with added path... And it's often a good idea to remove a troublesome sky, as she and Janet have done.

I believe it's possible to replace whole skies - my friends are reticent about this, because of the frequency with which the technology is abused with really awful sky replacements! I don't know if it's a facility that's available in the mobile version of Photoshop, though.

When/if you do decide to buy a camera, may I offer one piece of advice above all? Hold one, and try it out, before you buy. So often, a poor match of either ergonomics with hands or specification with practicality wrecks a relationship. Local camera shops are well worth the slightly higher prices for their ability to give advice based on knowledge. I have a particular affection for the London Camera Exchange in Derby, but there are other firms, and other shops within that chain. Computer and electronics retailers are a poor substitute!
11 Dec 2021 6:09PM
Thanks Pamela, Janet, Ivor,

For you comments and modifications.

@Pamelajean - Pamela, Interesting to see the picture without the sky, I understanding what you are saying, but felt a little sky peeping through at the top was needed to end the journey. Tbh (it may be cheating!) but I like what Ivor has done, its not over done and in line with what you might expect to see on a clearer day in the location. I think its ok to do this if its for personal enjoyment and/or you are transparent about what has been done, when sharing.

@Chase - Janet, I agree it has a much better flow with the imaged flipped. Thank you, this hadn't occured to me.

@Capto - Ivor, thank you so much for the modification. I am intriged how you (and Pamela) added more photo! When Moira said she wanted more pixels on the right - I thought hmmm short of time travel...and as if by magic more picture appeared. You edit seems totally seamless, incredible. I love it, I'd just make one change, to flip it as Janet suggested and its potential has been realised.

Thanks so much for the taking the time to share your knowledge with me again, I really appreciate it. Smile

Have a lovely evening,

banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4321 Canada
11 Dec 2021 9:42PM
Its nice to get a dialogue like this going! You will do well in this hobby.

I just added a mod with a different sky from Photoshop.


11 Dec 2021 11:39PM
@Dudler - Thanks for your comments - very helpful. You are definately right re: camera purchase advice. After a disappointing visit to a flagship camera chain in London, I went to an independent camera shop - good range of cameras, great advice and they let me try out a used one I liked. Won't get into a camera brand discussion here, as everyone has their view, suffice to say you'd probably approve, as you mentioned earlier an attachment to its big brother!
12 Dec 2021 12:20AM
@banehawi - Hi Willie, thanks for your words of encouragement and for the modification. I can see you have been very clever with the selection and placement of the somewhat ominious cloud and grey sky to create further depth and a story beyond. This also fits well with the narrative of the photo. Many thanks, Hannah
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
12 Dec 2021 7:40PM
No names, no pack drill, Hannah: there aren't many objectively bad cameras these days - just a fair number that don't suit individuals for specific purposes...
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 826 England
13 Dec 2021 3:43PM
I'm late to this one, somehow I missed it earlier.
Tall and narrow is fine but this would benefit from a bit more either side to avoid a claustrophobic feel.

I'm haapy either way with your placement of the path, I can't decide between them (my comment above notwithstanding) but trying different options at the time of hooting is always good.

Blank skies can be an issue and bright areas pull the eye so cropping them out an often produce a stronger image, here emphasising the wooded mountainside.

Sky replacement, it's now more accesible with the latest software but that only makes it worse. You have soft flat light here so he sky needs to reflect that. Willie's mod uses an overcast sky so it fits, but you could consider using such a sky at reduced opacity just to add texture. There are some absolutely terrible sky replacement images around, and on this site too, where the angles of light on the sky and foreground don't match, and that's just the start. Sore thumbs stand out less.
pablophotographer 11 2.1k 429
14 Dec 2021 3:26AM
Hi Hanna.

I like your picture. I am not a stranger to vertical frames, on the contrary actually. Modern mobiles need big batteries and as such their dimensions have become bigger, thus affecting their aspect ratio. It is always nice finding subjects to fill your frame.

In contrast with sports like football and rugby, in photography the goal of keeping interest within the frame can be succeeded by moving the goalposts or altering the frame dimensions.

That leaves the photographer with a set of questions: "What is the subject of my frame?" and "what can I leave in the frame that associates with my subject?" or "what can I leave out that does not impact the meaning of my picture?"

So here should we say that your subject is ... water? (There's a good film named "water" with Michael Cane). I associate the sky with the water and thus by subtracting it from the name I think I deduct an element associated closely with the subject. The bridge over the stream is not only quite prominent but one could say that this is the main subject of your frame and the rest behind it constitutes... just background!

So here we come... a long way but, talking of ways... what about the pathway to the bridge? I think you can actually crop the least associated element to the water (the pathway) and move the goalposts of your frame higher. If you crop near the tree trunk and include most of it in your new frame you can make the frame dimensions less elongated and more proportional whilst keeping your theme strong are relative to its elements. The part from the big rock on the left of the fallen tree trunk till the bottom of the frame can go.

If that view is near your doorstep... I suspect we shall see more to come.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

pablophotographer 11 2.1k 429
14 Dec 2021 3:49AM
Sorry for misspelling your name Hannah.
14 Dec 2021 5:27PM
@Pablophotographer - Thank you for your comments and taking the time to respond.

Without a modification, it is difficult to see clearly and evaluate your suggestions for improvement, but my instinct is that the crop suggested would not support the intended narrative as the path leading to the bridge is, I feel, critical to this.

My goal with the photograph was to tell a story, indicated by the title 'Chasing Waterfalls' – this is intended as a metaphor for chasing dreams (in line with the popular cultural reference). If key elements are removed like the path and the bridge, it becomes just 'Waterfall' which whilst aesthetically pleasing is (for me) not meaningful, nor unique from the hundreds of other pictures taken of the falls. My title is intended to pose a question to the viewer, 'do you want to go to the waterfall?' and at a deeper level 'is it a good idea if you do?'

The comments from the critique team, I have found most helpful have been in response to my objectives for the photo. Firstly, in identifying the need for an anchor for the story, in this case the bracken (and the need for slightly more of it). The photo without this, for me, is less meaningful - since the viewer is not grounded - and there is no clear start point for the journey.

The suggestions to widen the photo from Pamela and others and to flip the photo from Janet were also very helpful, as this provides room for the viewer to move through, and a clearer path. Whilst I can correct some of these issues in post-production, as shown with the mods, more significant is the learning here – which I can apply in the future.

In terms of the length of the shot, my conundrum was wanting to include all the elements I saw as key, against my worry, it would be 'rejected' for its non-standard format. In this, I took comfort from Moira’s example of another art form, medieval stain glass windows, which uses a long and tall format and her comments have given me more confidence to explore my creativity in this area.

The sky was troublesome for me, as it was neither inviting nor foreboding, and therefore not helpful to my journey narrative, or to the viewer in answering the question posed 'should I chase the Waterfall or not?' With a clearer sky the answer is clearly 'yes' - and I liked the mod Ivor provided, as it resolved my idealised view of how I wished it had looked on the day it was taken.

However, it was overcast on the day and as Dark_Lord points out the clearer sky is dissonant with the soft light. The sky Willie produced whilst less idealised, is in keeping with both the lighting and the narrative but may result in making the photograph less inviting. Dark_Lord's suggested compromise is probably therefore the way forward as it puts the decision back on the viewer.

My expectation is not that every viewer will understand my full intension (indeed I do not always fully understand it myself!) - I have found the Critique Gallery most helpful in this regard, in the advice given to help me to realise a photographs potential, but also in understanding more about how others view the world.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas also,
pablophotographer 11 2.1k 429
15 Dec 2021 7:56PM
Hi Hannah. I have uploaded a cropping suggestion I was talking about from my pad during my train travel. The path is kept there but it is reduced.
15 Dec 2021 8:30PM
@pablophotography - thanks very much for uploading the mod, I appreciate you taking the time, especially at this busy time of the year. I do personally still prefer it with a longer path, but it is most helpful to have had your feedback along with the other members and critique team. Thanks again Hannah Smile
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1950 England
16 Dec 2021 2:17PM
Hannah -

Thank you for your explanation of the whys and wherefores... Although a lot of this can be subconscious when you take the picture (and may have been entirely conscious, I realise!) it's a beautiful and clear analysis of the composition.

Thank you. I enjoyed reading it.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 826 England
16 Dec 2021 3:18PM
And thank you from me too Hannah.

I hope the different approaches and suggestions have given you plenty to think aout. While nothing is completely right or wrong it does show how different people see the same scene. Taking a bit of an idea fom one and part of a suggestion from another is often a result.

I enjoyed reading your response, you've critiqued the critique so very well Smile

16 Dec 2021 6:08PM
@Dark_Lord - Aha Keith (I finally have a name) - so pleased Dark_Lord was just a touch too formal. Wink Thanks so much for your lovely comments and awarding me (at least I assume it was you) a constructive critique point - my first one! I have looked through some of the other photos in the critique gallery, and tbh its a bit of a mystery to me, why some people post and then don't respond. I figure the least I can do, since you all invested time and energy in helping me, is to acknowledge this and let you know the difference your helpful advice and guidance has made. Thanks Hannah Smile

16 Dec 2021 6:47PM
@dudler - thank you so much for your kind comments and compliment on my analysis of the photo. I wondered after I posted it, if it was a bit too much (and suspect for some it still is) - but was glad to hear you and Keith liked it.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 826 England
16 Dec 2021 8:24PM

Quote:tbh its a bit of a mystery to me, why some people post and then don't respond

In all my time on the Critique Team (it must be 8 or 9 years now) it's still a mystery to me too Smile

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