Have you ever come upon a scene thinking, “I know there’s something here.” And then walked away empty-handed? I know I have.

However, it seems to happen less often when I try many different compositions. If there is a view that captures your attention, for whatever reason, it’s worth spending some time exploring with your camera. I often find paring down and isolating one element usually works wonders.

Set the scene

Initial overview of the scene shot with the Olympus Live ND feature.

Heading out to the creek I was looking for some new images while testing some camera gear. This section of Oak Creek in Sedona grabbed my attention. The scene was nice but an overview didn’t show a subject and there was no one place to look in the photo.

Crop into the scene

Cropping into the scene just a bit.

Here is where working with a good zoom lens comes in handy. My tripod was set up on the bank without much room to move. Changing the zoom allowed me to explore various compositions without having to change my position. I made a lot of different captures. This is one where I began to see the final photo.


Photoshop Layers palette

A bit of retouching and enhancing were all that was needed. The file was processed in Adobe Camera RAW. A separate layer was made for retouching. I find a second layer allows for a quick reference as to what has been accomplished by turning the layer on and off.

An additional layer was made to add enhancement using Luminar 4. A little sharpening, some Mystical and Glow were used. Finally, I added a sharpening layer and used a black layer mask to cover it and paint with white, to selectively sharpen areas where I want some extra attention.

This layer was created by an action I got from Aaron Nace of Phlearn. Aaron’s tutorials are a great value. He includes his actions as downloads as part of his service. I like his Phlearn Photoshop education so much I subscribed; I also am an affiliate.

Zoom in

Final photo after processing.

I almost missed this composition because these leaves were very close to my shooting position. As a matter of fact I was working hard to shoot around this little branch that ultimately became the hero in the final frame.


Fotopro tripod with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the 12-100mm f/4 M.Zukio lens.

A lens I often find on my OM-D E-M1 Mark III is the M.Zukio 12-100mm f/4 PRO. It has a similar field of view to a 35mm full frame 24-200mm lens. Pretty good at the wide end and a solidly long reach. The Fotopro Eagle E6L is my landscape and nature tripod of choice. The E6L is light and the quick level head makes it easily adjustable to level the camera without having to adjust the legs.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob