Expert Critique: Paying Attention to Details with 'El Capitan'

"El Capitan" by Chris Nee Lagria

"Reflected here is the magnificent El Capitan of Yosemite National Park. Taken with a 3 shot Panorama at F16 with 60 secs exposure each. I am happy with how my Fujifilm GFX 50R camera resolved the 3 stop difference between the foreground and background and still retained details, colors, just minimal noise."

First Thoughts

One important thing about any image is the first impression it creates. This image is very beautiful and welcoming with the use of colour, the value of the light and the sharpness all contributing to the aesthetics of the image.


The photographer positioned themselves well, at an angle where the light is interesting. The exposure is perfect and brings to light almost all the elements in the image regardless of the distance. Technically speaking, the preservation of the tiniest details (like the trees on the mountain) also makes the image beautiful (not every photographer preserve those tiny details).


When it comes to landscape photography, consistency in colours is important because when one colour appears more saturated than others, it makes the overall image look awkward. The only colour that popped out here were shades of yellow on the bushes but this was complimentary to the sunset. All the other colours fall on the same tone with none higher than others.

Improving the shot

It is important to reiterate that there is almost nothing wrong with this image but technically there are a few things that could be improved upon to make it even more beautiful...

Visual weight

This is defined as the largest proportion of the frame and the portion that calls the attention the most when looking at the picture. In this image, while it is perceived that the photographer was trying to call attention to the water, the sky draws the attention more. This is due to the fact that the sky is void of distraction compared to the area of water. Let us separate the image into two sections (Water are and Sky area) and see which calls your attention more… (see below)

Sky area

Water area

In the image with water, you will notice that the reflected sky area draws more attention than the rest of the elements in the image.


As much as the sunset reflection enthralls, the presence of the trees on the horizon distracts. Also, while trying to reflect the entire landscape in the water, the photographer didn’t take note of the fact that the water had its own elements (e.g. stones) which makes it quite busy, cluttered almost. A few elements could have been removed in post-production to make the scene simpler.


Conclusively this picture is great, it conveys calmness and makes one want to experience the serenity portrayed. With a few adjustments mentioned above and the timing (possibly having the sun come out from behind the trees at sunset), it could be even better than it already is.

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