Sun Sparkles on the Water - Yes or No?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by ducksquat, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. I personally like the photo I shot below from the different perspective of the typical Maroon Bells shot near Aspen. Last night, I entered this photo in my local photo club's monthly critique session and the visiting judge (local prof) gave it high marks all around but said that I absolutely should crop the sun sparkles out because they often appear to be a flaw in the photo. I purposely shot it with the sun sparkles to get that "magical" feeling of being there. Another long-time photog in the club approached me afterwards to echo what the judge said too.
    Ultimately, I know a good photo personally is what I like and I like it. But, I'm also doing this for the potential to sell so - what are your thoughts on sun sparkles on water?
  2. This really isn't a photo critique forum. That's what the photo critique forum is for.

    FWIW I agree with the judge.

    This thread has a short life.
  3. I wish you had asked the judge a bit more.

    The problem is not "sun sparkles", but the size and intensity of yours in the pic: they wash out the whole lower left corner, and give the whole picture a blemish. 3, 4, 5 small sparkles would be nice and could be included, but this dinner plate full of them distracts me.

    What does it do to you? Any self critique would help you become a better photographer ...

    I also find the right edge of the pic unfinished, un-composed. The pic just ends and does not complete the picture that was there to be taken in a more balanced way.
  4. Don, in this case I would agree with the judge. The "sparkles" in this photo are large enough in size that they might equally be described as a reflection of the sun. Sparkles or specular highlights, such as you might get on a windy day are one thing, but a large area of blown out highlights such as you have here is something else.

    Bob, FWIW, I think Don's question is a legitimate question about landscape photography and what sorts of things might be regarded as "flaws." To me it is a fair use of the forum to illustrate the question with an example so we can understand better what he is talking about. I didn't understand him to be asking for a general critique of the photo.
  5. Hi Don,

    Look like a nice fall. I understand the desire to find a way to capture the magical feeling of
    being there. That is, after all, what it's about. In this case I have to agree with everyone
    else. While the sun reflections on the water make the place feel magical while your are
    there in person, they don't necessarily translate onto film. This makes judging your own
    work exceptionally difficult because you still hold the association from actually being
    there, while your viewer doesn't. I think if you want to use the highlights on the water, you
    might be able to do it successfully, but you would need to commit to the idea and really
    make the reflections part of the composition rather than a small feature bleeding off the
    edge begging to be cropped.

    BTW. I understand why the moderators don't want this to turn into a photo-critique and
    don't want this place to turn into a 'what do you think of this shot' forum, but I have to
    chuckle when it's not ok to talk about actual photographs in the nature photography
  6. Don, great shot of an oft-photographed location.

    I have to agree with the judge and other posters...especially with the sparkles just peeking out of the corner it looks like a mistake. Sparkles in a shape/location that complimented the composition might be a different matter!
  7. Well I'm in the minority - I like the sparkles and think that without them (cropped out or cloned or whatever) you've got just another perfect shot of an overdone landmark. Having them creates a little intrigue. I think it would work even better if they were not on the edge of the frame, but as it is it works fine for me.
  8. Thanks for the comments, folks. FWIW, this wasn't posted for a critique as much as asking for an explanation to a critique I received last night at the meeting. I'd have asked him more details but he had to critique a ton of photos, we ran late, and he had to make a quick exit while our meeting continued 10 minutes after he was done so - no chance.

    I wasn't offended by his remarks nor yours - I simply want to know more as to why the sun sparkles aren't desirable and now I have a better understanding.

    Thanks again!
  9. The compositional balance of the photo is affected by the sparkles, which compete with the main subject... the mountains. The foreground would be better off without them. Besides that, nice shot! -Greg-
  10. The sparkles clearly show a lacking dynamic range - crop em out. Next time use a higher dynamic range imager that varies voltage pixel by pixel. I personally like Sun sparkles on ice covered lakes in the winter.
  11. The sparkles are just distracting. They draw the eye right to them and away from the main subject.

    BTW I realize this isn't just asking for a critique, which is why I left the post in place for comments for a while. Looks like the general opinion is that they should go, but if you like them, it's your wall the image is going to be displayed on!
  12. SCL


    I love the shot, overall, except for the "sparkles". If they had been made less distracting via a polarizing filter, I would have said "keep them". As it is, due to the intensity of the distraction, I would say "lose them". My 2 cts.
  13. I agree with Bob: the sparkles are not helping the image - maybe it triggers a memory for you & that's okay -

    I cropped it to tighten it up a bit & to eliminate the blown out highlights
  14. I have to agree with the others. In this shot, they don't seem to serve any purpose but as a distraction. They just don't fit into the current composition. Unfortunately, without them, this shot has a big blank area in the lower left (I know it's because you composed using them as a compositional element).
  15. There's really no accounting for taste. Been to a modern art show recently?

    But I personally find them a bit distracting at the edge of the frame like that. I would have
    placed them a bit towards the center.

    Plus, the distant mountain shadows are way too blue.
  16. I basically very much agree with Mark M. I just happen to like the combination of sun and water, either with or without ripples. To me it would have been better if the reflections had taken much more of a centre stage as I feel this would have lifted it even further out of the "overdone landmark" category.

    That said I would have been pleased to take this one.
  17. Does anyone like subdued Sun sparkles on ice?
  18. I'm a pretty poor photographer from an æsthetic perspective, so take this with a big grain of salt. But I agree with those who say that the sparkles are distracting. If the sparkles were distributed across more of the photo, I'd like them.
  19. The sparkles are distracting because your eye is naturally drawn to the brightest object or area in a photograph. In this case, the sparkles. They keep you from looking at the rest of the photograph as your eyes are constantly drawn back to the lower left corner.

    I don't mind the inclusion of an area like this in a photo, but you have to carefully place it so that it becomes part of the composition that leads your eye through the photo instead of leading you off the photo. I don't read the area as being some type of technical "flaw" in the film or print, but a mis-placed compositional element.

    As for the comment about the mountain shadows being "too blue,"'s the mountains. If you've ever been there that's really how it looks. Lots of blue from the sky, lots of UV, the air between the photographer and the mountains reflects blue light. That's how it looks with a totally blue sky.

    Using an 81A filter usually eliminates the problem, but then you no longer have an accurate color photograph, but an interpretation of what was there. It's up to the photographer to choose which way they want to render the scene - but, eliminating the blue is really changing the reality of the scene - if rendering reality is the intent of the work.
  20. I believe that the picture would be improved by cropping the entire lower third of the image.
  21. Broken Record: Sparkles are a distraction. If you like them..KEEP THEM!

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