The Weekly Photo – April 11

The photos below were taken on April 1st at the Kootenay Plains about 55 kilometres west of Nordegg, Alberta. This spot which I call the Kootenay Plains Reflecting Pools is one of my favorite spots along Highway 11. Anyone who comes on one of my photo tours is bound to get introduced to the reflecting pools which are great at sunrise if there are clouds to under light and again wonderful at sunset when the peaks in the background light up. Usually April is a bit of a tough month for photography in Alberta because the snow is old and dirty or mostly melted and the vegetation is bare and brown. But on this day a  little colour in the sky, no wind and some open water worked well  to make an engaging scene.

Often on a good sunrise day you’ll get three waves of colour, the first is magenta, then second red-orange, and the third is yellow-orange. Nature shared all three waves of colour with great intensity on this sunrise. I shot these photos with a Canon Rebel T2i and my Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm. Each shot is a hand-blended exposure of three images bracketed at meter, +2 and -2 EV. I tried to blend the exposures to give a result like my eye remembered the scene. It was an intense sunrise! Let me know if you prefer one image over the others and why.

©Darwin Wiggett - 5.0s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett - 4s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett - 1.6s at f10

37 Responses to “The Weekly Photo – April 11”

  1. Personally I like the last one, mostly for the comp. I like the addition of the evergreen trees on the left. I think they balance the old log on the right. You know that I tend to favor the warm tones as well. But, I think the first is the most dramatic with the brilliant magentas and blues.

  2. I like the first one, partly because the pink is such a lovely rose colour, but mostly because I like the positioning of the branch as a lead in. It is there for the eye to follow but its colouration blends better with the overall scene so that it isn’t as intrusive as it is in the other two. Gosh, it does look diffferent to how it was in February/March though!

  3. I like the third best. My eyes were first drawn to the mountains by the streaming color and then the sweep of the shoreline to the left guides you to the foreground. The log in the foreground directs you back to the mountains again. Nice flow.

  4. vicente machado Says:

    Hi, Darwin:
    I prefer the photo nº 2 (in the middle).
    It is more defined in colours, showing the peaks and the water in a smooth way and no trees because the angle.

  5. Hi,

    I’d prefer the 2nd one for its colors and the quasi-star that’s formed by the clouds and their reflection (well, at least that’s what attracted my eyes on this one). The tree log on the foreground is a bit too prominent though, maybe ?
    But all in all a nice image.

  6. I think I marginally prefer the first one but I really like the star that the reflection creates with the colour in the middle of the image. Almost like a portal.

  7. I like the 2nd one, mostly because of the colors. It’s not too pink, and not too orange. Like Goldilocks said, “It’s just right”! The position of the log feels like it’s in the best place in the 2nd one as well.

  8. Sterling Says:

    They all are stunning but I think the third is compositionally strongest. My eye gets hung up in the bottom right corner of the firstt one. The log seems a little too prominent in the second. But the third has this nice circularity to it that keeps my eye moving from the clouds, to the trees on the left, down diagonally to the log, and right back to the clouds.

  9. All three are great Darwin!!!

  10. I like the third – the colours seem more natural… and there a warmer feel to it. — Marilyn

  11. Darwin,

    All there are great, however I like the middle one, which I feel has the transition of the other two.

  12. Very nice collection, Darwin. For me the top one is the best in color (I dig these cold blues) and compositionally the last one is really yummy.

  13. Number 3 is the best for composition. My eye travels the full length of the photograph without distraction. 1 is more colorful, but too loose around the edges. I feel like I’m being pulled out of the frame halfway through. The curves of 3 give my eyes bounderies to follow and flow within the frame. 2 feels like the tree is pointing to the horizon saying “look here”, just in case you didn’t know where to look. I’ve learned a lot from your work and words in the past, which is why I think 3 conveys the strongest feelings for me.

  14. Hi Darwin,
    hey darwin, I prefer the first one because give me a good feeling about the space and the wood is pointing perfectly to the sky hole like a gun. I like the reflection too.
    The second one is more active in colour at my eyes but i don’t like the position of the wood.
    The third one I get a feeling of unbalance with the wood pointing left too far away from the mountain and the lake shore going to the other site and converting to the center.
    just my opinion.


  15. Noreen Bateman Says:

    I love the intense colours of 5.0s at f10. A spectacular Alberta sunrise is so dramatic…this would relate to the true colour. Also like how the upside down”U”highlights the mountains- the star of the capture.

  16. I like the first one. why, well here goes. The third one causes me to loss focus on the background. I would like to follow the s line of the shore but, I stop quickly at the dead stump. The second is a little better for me but, I start to get lost on the small twig like branches a little. The first one moves the stump a little farther in and helps to lead my eye toward the mountains and then the clouds above. I bet if the first one had more of the shore line, then the shore line and the stump would lead me to the same place in the background. So I guess for me the stump is to close to the bottom on the third, if I could combine the first and third, I would be done. So, I like the first. I would like it more if there was just a little more on the left side. However, you are the Master so, who am I to comment, lol.

  17. Hi Darwin,
    I like them all but prefer the third one. My eye seems to appreciate the composition of this one, and the colors are splendid. Love that spot – I was there last spring and would love to be back. Gerald

  18. Darwin
    Great photos. Thanks for the oppurtunity to hone my visulization skills. I like the way 3 feels. The first 2 are great photos but I don’t sense the same feeling of being there as I do with 3. I start from the log, my eye follows the shoreline around to the trees and then settles on the awesome sunrise. I want to explore more.

  19. They are all great images Darwin, but for me the first one really grabs me. The intensity of the colour just draws me right in and those amazing pinks and blues in the sky and reflected in the water frame the mountain scene so perfectly that my eye is just drawn there.

  20. Natalya Pluzhnikov Says:

    I love the first for dramatic colors and wider sky, but the composition of the third, with the shore line and trees on the left is also great.

  21. I like the color in the first and the comp of the last, the trees on the left near mid frame in the last one really appeal to me.

  22. I like the first one best. To me, it captures the best time of the day. Color is so intense. But if this image is turned to B&W, I think this photo is still interesting because I see circular pattern in the middle of the image and mountains are sitting in the circle. Then the old log and moss in the water are acting as accents and leading lines to the circle. Ha, ha, I can see patterns in pictures but I can not see at locations. That’s my problem. By the way, Canadians were waiting for spring, but which means we also have to set an alarm really early in morning.

  23. When I first saw these on my phone I thought #3, the colours were very intense and it stood out from the crowd. Looking at them now on a larger and calibrated screen I’d say #1, far more detail in the pond, great colours.

  24. Karen Raley Says:

    I prefer the second one, mainly because I like the sky better in that one.

  25. Hey all, great comments on the reasons the photos work or do not work for you.

    As we see from the comments, each photo had votes for favorite which just goes to show how subjective photography is. There is no right or wrong answer, just what appeals to you or not. All opinions are valid….

    Myself, I still have no idea which one is my favorite. If I could take the best of all three images and combine them into one, then I think I would have a real winner! As it is, I think the images are accessible and pleasing; we’ll see if they actually have any staying power over time, or if they are just easy ‘pop’ songs, that are catchy because of the colour and subject but where the tune gets old fast. In other words would these photos pass the wall test, or would one get tired of them after a week? Hard to say without trying the test first… Darwin

  26. Carrie Bradley Says:

    Hello: I like all your photos (as always!), however, number 1 is my favourite. The first waves of magenta colour speaks passion. I also appreciate the ‘natural aspect of the photo’ since you did not overdue the highlighting of the foreground when you blended the exposures. I notice you shot at 8mm and was able to get a very wide angle of this scene…..this may be a silly question – was there any sky stitching to capture such an eloquent shot? Another silly question – when you say you handblended the 3 exposures, do you mean you blended with photoshop versus using a tool like HDR? I have been experimenting with my NikSoftware HDR lately. Is it possible to get a similar photo using HDR -2/0/+2 exposure? Or do you personally feel in this case it is better to handblend with photoshop? Also, I understand that the Sigma 8mm is very difficult to filter without getting vignetting. Is that why you shot the 3 images -2/0/+2? Do you think you can capture similar shots with the aid of a polarizer and ND grads and shooting one exposure only with a lens that is easy to filter? I would like to sign off by saying thank-you for all the early morning sacrifices you make to present remarkable photography to the world!

    • Hi Carrie,

      No sky stitching in these photos, the 8mm setting is super wide and took it all in.

      I blended in Photoshop using layers.

      HDR programs can get you close if you know what you are doing. In this case the clouds are moving pretty fast and between exposures so there will be areas where the clouds no longer line up especially at 5 second exposures. In cases like this (moving components in a scene), I will use hand-blending over HDR programs.

      Yes the Sigma is hard to filter so I don’t. The reason I had to use three exposures was because the contrast range from the dark water foreground to the bright sunrise clouds was beyond the sensor’s ability to record it all in one frame. And Yes had I used a lens I could filter a polarizer and grads is my preferred way to the same result.


  27. Gerri link Says:

    i really like #3 the best it look the most natural placemenyt of the log the log and sky in avallignment mi to me eye catching and the feel is warm pretty pic

  28. Hi,

    Somebody wrote an article in an outdoor photography magazine about how you should wait a month and then look at the images. So I’ll follow that advice then express an opinion. 🙂


    PS They all have their strengths and weaknesses. In all three images I think the emphasis on the circularity (sky water) is overdone. In number 1 the lower right just doesn’t flow into the image. In number 3 the log doesn’t lead your eyes to anything except it does match the cloud line in the sky. The bank, water and pine trees on the left are very nice – gives you that nice S curve feeling. The underwater “stuff” is nicely balanced in number 2 but the rest of the image doesn’t offer a lot but it is somewhat “layered”. Being an ektachome kinda guy I like the colours in 1 but overall I’d pretty much have to go for number 3 – if I had to. In a month I might feel differently. 🙂

    • Hi Ed,

      Maybe if I had waited the month like I normally do for processing, I would have seen the compositional flaws more readily and hit the delete key on these ones 😉

      Getting excited about a good sunrise experience in the field and prematuraly processing the images before the excitement of the event has worn away might have been a bad idea.

      Whoever wrote that ‘wait a month’ idea must really be on to something…. maybe I should take that advice more seriously 😉

  29. I prefer the first one, with all the pink and the bottom of the lake leading the eyes to the mountains. Hard to pick though, they are all awesome!

  30. Darwin – I also prefer the first image in your post. This image is more balanced… the leading lines all move to the center of the image. The others are a bit off balance and the second image is the most troublesome since the log becomes too dominant.

  31. I really like all three, but 1 and 3 do it for me – the colors of the first are perfect, and the third has the middle-ground element of those trees on the left which I find emphasises the depth of the image. I’m just thinking – the sky reflections should be a bit darker than the sky itself, and in all 3 of these, the foreground reflections seem about the same light intensity. So I’d darken up the foreground reflections just a bit. BUT DON’T HIT THE DELETE KEY ON THESE!

    (Like Roni said – it didn’t look like this in early March!)

  32. Nice photos Darwin. I too like 1 / 3 the most. How great that the shapes of the clouds so well mirrored the mountain range.

  33. My vote goes to the first image, mostly because of the hyper-real colors, but also because the shadow from the dead tree in the foreground looks like a snub-nosed, cold water alligator. The “head” of the shadow actually looks kind of like a mooing cow, but that’s just silly. 😉

  34. I think they are all lovely, but I like #3 in particular. The colors appear to be more natural. I like the way the driftwood frames the foreground but doesn’t dominate the landscape.

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