There are few things these days that will actually stop me in the tracks and catch my eyes when it comes to photos. I admit its years of plowing through galleries, both in real life, and in the virtual. But this is one of those rare few that made me stop, and smell the roses to use a fairly outdated phrase. Colors and lighting that just seem to jump at me, and a subject that is as beautiful as it is mysterious. I had to give it a second look, stare away I did.
I admit harboring a sever hatred towards studio lighting; I know how much control it can give you, and how many amazing and wicked things you can accomplish with the right set-up and right skills, but to me and these eyes there is something amazing about the way our Sun can perfectly light up a scene. And this photo is by far one of the best examples I have seen, produced by someone who has become an expert in using what nature gave them. The exposure is spot on and just perfect, even with to separate light levels the scene is balanced. While the blown out white at the top is something I would normally comment on, it seems to help counter balance the negative space at the top. There is truly nothing I can pick apart or find a problem with in the way this photo was shot in regards to exposure.
The colors are similarly as brilliant; the greens pop out where they need to, and the dark browns and grays of the tree stump stand out and give depth to the scene. While great, the colors though aren't as perfect as the lighting. The background seems a bit muddled in color, and while you could argue that it keeps it from distracting you main point of focus, I still think it could have used a bump or two in saturation to make it seem as vibrant as the greens and stump do. Still that is a minor niggle and the only one I could find with the coloration and white balance of the photo.
The focus is the only area I find myself having leftover wants with this photo. The focus point on this photo seems a bit haphazard, and while I love getting that bit of moss in near perfect focus and see all its little bristles, I still wish for both a wider Depth of Field, as well as a focal point a bit further forward to capture more of the interesting looking growth on the front. Seeing a shutter speed of 1/600th of second tells me the Aperture could have easily been bumped up a few stops to narrow it and widen that DOF. At least an F/8 or F/10 would have brought the tips of the little growths poking right out at you in better focus, even without moving the focal point.
While I talked about the blown out sky at the top helping to balance out the photo, it is the only other small problem I have with it. There still seems to be a bit too much negative space at the top. I know with subjects like this it can be a hard balancing act, getting the right amount of negative space without over filling the screen with the subject and making it seem too busy, but this one seems to have just a bit too much. With the very small amount of space on the left side of the photo things seem slightly out of whack to my OCD eyes. I think for something like this, just moving the subject a bit further up would have been just perfect. Still its my OCD brain that catches these things, and most normal people never do.
All in all though this has to be one of the better photos I have seen in a while; the colors just pop out at you and grab your attention, the lighting is so perfect even everyday laymen can appreciate its perfection even if not as much of those of us with knowledge. The framing and focus as well as DOF are minor niggles, but I have yet to see a perfect photo in my day, but this comes dangerously close.