Duck wrote:I wanted to respond when I first saw this photo but work kept me away.
I really like this particular image. It is one of those serendipitous scenes that if you didn't photograph it you would disappoint the photography gods.]...
There are, however, two points that caught my eye. First is a minor one, the colors need to be more vibrant. They feel a touch too muted for such a fiery tree. Saturation and contrast boost easily solves that issue. The other is with the angles of the trees in relation to the landscape. The image looks unlevel. It may not be the physical truth but because of the angle of the surrounding trees, the angle of the main subject and the angle of the background hill it makes if feel out of balance.
You have one singular tree in the foreground that is level in the frame and, I assume here, is what you framed against. I marked that with lavender and orange arrows. The thing is, that front tree isn't the subject, just a foreground element. I have marked the angle of the surrounding trees (blue lines) in relation to the dark of the 'shoreline' and the hill running in the background (yellow arrows). You can see they are perpendicular to each other and that adds to the illusion the photo is tilted. I don't think the solution is in correcting the trees in the background and making them upright. The solution is probably a balance somewhere in the middle.
Thank you Duck, for this detailed review. I agree with your excellent points about the leveling quandary. I have always had trouble with figuring out how to deal with photos that are physically level but don't look it, I will do some adjusting and think it will help. It really doesn't matter whether it's truly level or not, all that matters is how it looks! As for the color and contrast, I already did some fairly significant adjusting there, and was worried that going any further would look odd given how much fog is visible. I was afraid I'd already done more than I oughta. So I'll proceed with some caution.