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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Twin Jewels Project: Icy River

Today, another image from those being considered for inclusion in my so-called Twin Jewels Project. More information on the project itself can be found here.

Before talking about this particular photograph, I did want to say that I do recognize, as has been brought up in prior comments, the importance of a formal artist's statement regarding the project....it just hasn't been written yet (ah, if only there were more time). I do have some ideas about it floating around in my head, but they still need to be put to paper.

The image I am considering is entitled 'Icy River', and is one of the relatively few that I have taken during the dead of winter. I have to say, much as I have difficulty getting myself out to make photographs in the cold, I always come back glad that I did.

So, on to the image:

Icy River
Copyright Howard Grill

There were several issues that presented themselves in either the photographing or printing stages of making this image.

1) Composition

I liked the "S" shaped curve made by the ice on the right side of the river as it receded from front to back. There were several compositions that I made when taking this picture. In this shot, the focal length of the lens accentuated the favorable "S" shape. It also allowed me to frame the image with ice along the bottom edge of the image which, to me, seemed to give it a 'contained' feel.

However, by making the "S" shape that I liked more prominent, I believe I lost something as well. In some ways I think the focal length is too long when viewing the left side of the river. In the best of all possible worlds, I think the solid portion of the ice on the left bank should have been included all the way down to nearly the bottom of the image, similar to the way it is included on the right. The fact that there is so much more floating ice on the left side of the river compared to the right seems to balance this out to a reasonable extent, but I still wish the solid ice extended further to the bottom of the frame. As mentioned, I would have had to use a shorter focal length to do so and would then lose some of the prominence of the "S" shape, so I am not sure how the tradeoff would have worked out.

I should add that I was standing on an overlook and thus there was no option to move closer in or further out.

2) Color Cast

In the image, as it came out of the camera, there was a fairly strong green color cast in the ice and water on the river as a result of the evergreen tree reflections. Though it was 'real', I did not find that it enhanced the image. However, I did not want to simply desaturaute the green as that would have also destaurated the green trees. So I masked out the trees and removed the cast from the water but then found that there was then a stark and unnatural appearance to the monochrome appearing water and ice compared to the background. I therefore re-introduced a touch of blue-green coloration to the dark areas of the water in order to give the image a more natural feel. I then intensified the green/yellow saturation in the trees a bit.

In regards to color, I also like the way the color in the rocks seem to somewhat echo the color in the distant orange trees.

3) Three Dimensional Effect

I wanted the image to pull the viewer in with a three dimensional effect. Obviously, the use of a relatively short focal length sets the stage. This is also the first image on which I have used the Akvis Enhancer plug-in, and I must say that I am very pleased with the result. By enhancing the subtle differences in shades of green, it really allowed the trees take on much more depth. This effect is not so evident with the small image as seen here...however, I have recently discovered a neat new blogger trick. Simple click on the image and a new window with a larger version will appear.

By the way, the same enlarging trick can be used for the Color In Motion image. In the comments section to that post, there was some discussion about how the image might look if seen larger. Now it seems pretty easy to obtain the enlarged view.

So, in short, I think the image conveys the feel of this location in winter very well. However, I think the composition has some trade offs. I would be interested in hearing what others think about how the composition works (or doesn't).

By the way, if anyone is interested, my prior blog essay entitled "Photography and Truth" has been published on Uwe and Bettina Steinmueller's Digital Outback Photo. Though the text is the same as had been posted in this blog, this new version also has photographic illustrations which the original version did not. The illustrated version can be seen here.