Feedback needed : Three simple questions

Usually, I am typing posts for you (and me). Now, all I have are three simple questions. Would you do me a favour and answer them?

I asked similar questions on Facebook (and if you click that link, you might as “Like” the page 😉 ).

The reason I am asking: I want to improve my photography, and I value your opinion! There is also a second reason: Every now and than I see a fantastic photo of a sunset, and the dynamic range of these photos are incredible, yet still natural. I wonder, how do you maximize the dynamic range of your photos? HDR, double exposure…?

My three questions for you are:

  1. Which of the two photos below do you like best? And why?
  2. In the photo you like most, what would you have done differently?
  3. How do you achieve a maximum dynamic range in your photos?
"Hoorneboegse Heide"

Hilversum is surrounded by forests, and heathland. This bench can be found at the “Hoorneboegse Heide”. A nice view during sunset.

Heathland "Hoorneboeg"

How do you maximize the dynamic range in your photos? During sunsets, this can be quite tricky!

Thank you very much!

Kind regards,



  1. I like the 2nd photo the best, I think the tree adds some interesting lines and balance. In the first photo, the sky is a bit more dramatic, but still going with photo 2. I’ll watch your other readers comments for tips on dynamic range, I find a lot of my photos flat, despite my best darkroom (lightroom/photoshop) efforts.

    • Thank you very much for your opinion! It is funny how most people like the first photo. I prefer the second one too, because the distance to the bench makes me a spectator of the scene.

      Yeah, getting the dynamic range right is a challenge!

      Have a great weekend!


  2. Great info on your blog and awesome images 🙂 Can’t really help you with this feedback since I’m not a pro in photography but if I have to choose between those 2 images …the first one would be the one I like the most.

    • Thank you very much! I appreciate your kind words 🙂 Neither am I, but you don’t need to be a pro, to know what you like. Again, thank you for your kind words, I hope you’ll have a great weekend!

      Kind regards,

  3. I like the first photo more as to me it has more “emotion” with the bench more highlighted, sort of a lonely bench needing someone to sit on it and view the beautiful landscape. I wouldn’t have done anything differently to the picture, it’s has a very nice composition. I’m new to photography, but if I understand dynamic range correctly I usually take several shots on differently manual settings to bring out the light and dark. I also use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to adjust the range. Great shots, both of them.

    • Thank you for leaving your thoughts! The first photo indeed shows more emotion, but the second one makes me feel like I am a spectator of the scene (due to the distance).

      Thank you for those kind words. Are you a big fan of HDR? Most HDR aren’t very natural, what I don’t like. But some photos you can’t even tell their HDR, and those are the ones I like 🙂

      Again, thanks! Hope you have a great weekend ahead!


      • I’m very new to photography, but I agree with you about HDR. It’s a fine line to get it right.

        • It is a challenge indeed, but if you get it right, it can work very well 🙂


  4. 1) The first photograph… because the sunset sky is the subject there… In the second one my attention is being on bench
    2) There is not something that I would make differently in the first photo (the most one I like)
    3) I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t look for or think a subject or I don’t make a plan for photography, subjects find me… But of course I try to take several photographs of the same thing, Sorry I can’t help you about this question.

    Thank you, love, nia

    • Hi Nia,

      Happy to see you left a little note for me 🙂 Hope you’re doing fine? I am!

      Thank you for your valued opinion! I like your explanation of why you like the first one most. Interesting point of view, the sky indeed is the subject.

      Have a great weekend ahead!

      All the best,

  5. Second. There is something eerie about the lighting – it could be before a storm, at dusk, during an eclipse. I like the contrast on the tree as well. I have to admit im an HDR junkie.

    • Thank you for your opinion 🙂 I think it was raining that day, and later that evening the weather got worse indeed!

      I am not a HDR junkie, I prefer a more natural look, something HDR tends to lack.

      Again, thank you for stopping by!

      Hope you have a great weekend ahead!


  6. I prefer the first one. The tree in the second one falls out of the frame and distracts the eye. Plus there are too many elements for the viewer to know what is the subject.
    The first one is a much better framed shot. You have the wispy clouds and fading light with colours in the sky, and the lonely bench. As mojoshawn said, it has more emotion. What would I do differently with #1? I might try shooting from a kneeling position to change the angle and put the bench at the viewers eye, a little more promonent in the frame.
    But it is still a wonderful shot as it is 🙂

    • Thanks for your feedback! You’re right about the tree falling out the frame. I like your point of view. Maybe stepping back even further would help the shot? Or indeed, a lower angle. I should try that out!

      Again, thank you for your reply, I truly appreciate it!

      Have a great weekend!

      Kind regards,

    • Thank you very much Alesia! Do you know why you prefer the first one?

      Have a great weekend!


      • The mood. The feeling I got from it visualizing myself in that scene. Majestic imagery and a fantasy to go along with it. Does that help you?

        • Yes it helps 🙂 I think it is because the bench is much closer in that photo.

          Thank you!


          • It brings depth . Yes. But what I focus on is what you are looking at while sitting. It could be more of composition question for sure.

          • Very insightful 🙂 Both photos tell a different story. Again, thank you! 🙂


  7. I prefer the first one. I love the trees framing the shot. And the feeling of depth that I can’t find in the second one. Also, for me, the blue is too blue in the second one and I prefer the atmosphere of the first shot. I think it’s so subjective, it will change from one person to another.

    For example, i think the complete opposite as “niasunset”. For me, the subject in the first photograph is the bench, but it is hilighted by the beautiful and dramatic sky, and you want to go and sit on this bench. The second one for me is confusing. I’m looking at the tree and not the bench nor the sky.

    Which one is your favourite ?

    • Thank you very much for your extensive reply 🙂 How wonderful of you to notice the colours. The blue really blue yeah 🙂 You’re absolutely right, taste it is subjective! But all the feedback I had (including yours) was so helpful and insightful. I think I will return to that bench someday and try to use the tips you people gave me.

      I understand how the tree in the second photo is a bit confusing. Also since it is placed on a spot where I usually a subject could be placed.

      Again, thanks for your reply!

      Hope you have a great weekend!


      • I’m not a specialist, but I gave you what I felt when I look at your pictures, I’m glad it helped 🙂 It helped me as well reading the other comments 😉 These kind of posts are always useful 🙂

        Have a nice Easter weekend !

        • Yeah, I had no idea how helpful this was! So many valuable words, so many visions, I love it!

          Thank you! We are having a nice weekend! Just went the the forest jogging with my girlfriend, and now some good Greece food 🙂

          I hope you weekend is going well too?


          • It is great to live near a forest, just a 5 minute walk and I am in the forest 🙂

            Those moments with your family are great, I visited my cousin (and his wive and kids). Always great to visit them 🙂

            Those lazy days rock 🙂


  8. Q1: I prefer the second photo – the tree anchors the image, is a dramatic focal point and gives a sense of scale to the scene

    Q2: hmmm, tough – I like it as it. Perhaps try to extract some detail from the shadow-y band (trees?) in the center third. Also maybe I’d crop a little further to the left of the bench giving it more space – it has a faintly ‘squished’ feel, as if it only just made it into the image

    Q3: I usually exposure bracket and then merge the resulting separate images in HDR software

  9. Thank you very much for your words Kate, very insightful 🙂 Giving the bench some more negative space is a very great idea. It is consistent with the idea that occurred to me while reading Norm’s feedback, to take a step back and retake the photo, to add some more negative space. Thank you for pointing that out 🙂

    Like I replied to others, I am not a big fan of unnatural HDR. But it is worth to try it again some day 🙂

    Have a grand weekend ahead!


  10. I would say I like the first picture better, but it’s not an easy choice 🙂 What I like about it is that it brings more emotions and imagination. For me, it’s about the bench and all the people that sat there thoughout the time and saw a beautiful view just like the one in your picture.
    I am not a pro photographer, but I sometimes try taking an HDR to compare if it makes the shot more authentic. But I don’t like those HDR that look unnatural.

    • Thank you for telling me your thoughts Patricia! Others share your point on emotions on the first photo. This has been really helpful 🙂

      I wonder what the people on that bench thought, or talked about.

      I agree with you on the HDR.

      Thank you so much for leaving your comment! Have a great weekend!

      Kind regards,

  11. Hello there friend. I will answer the last question first because it’s the easiest: I have no idea what dynamic range means. Now, as far as the other questions: I really like both pictures but I like the first one better because its uniqueness: it’s rather rustic and the greens are wholly different than the greens in the second shot. The green that stands out most in the second shot is a basic grass green that is very common; but the green that stands out most in the first is the moss green on the bench and it pulls me into the shot much more than the grass green. As for what I would have done differently, I would probably enhance the moss green even more (I use plain ol’ gimp) and drain some of the color from the sky to where it would look almost monochromatic. Great shots, both. Great post, too.

    • Hi Kurt! It has been a while, but very nice to see a comment from you! Dynamic range is how much details are visible in light parts and shadows. Our eyes and our camera’s sensor are limited to the details we can see in different light insensitive areas. For example: if you take a photo of a sunny seen, the shadows will be very dark. But if you try “correctly expose” the shadows, the sunny part will be too bright! Finding a balance is a challenge 🙂

      Thank you for your opinion! Green is very common and the advantage of getting close to the bench is (indeed) showing more details (moss).

      I like your point of view on the colours, I should re-edit it en look how it turns out 🙂

      Have a great weekend mate!

      Warm greetings,

  12. I like the 2nd image better, because I think the branches on top of the first one ware a little distracting. If I was shooting the 2nd image, I would take a few steps to the left to try and get a better angle on the bench, and have it squared to me.

    As far as extending dynamic range, I use multiple exposures. The number of exposures depends on the scene and how wide the DR is. Then, I use luminosity masks to manually blend them. I used to use photomatix a few years ago, but the results are too fake and leave you with uneven lighting.

    • Thank you very much for your extensive comment! I used the branches as part of the frame, but I can see how they are distracting. Getting square to the bench is a great suggestion! Although sometimes I find it difficult to get square (I somehow find myself just not squar).

      I should look in to using photoshop for multiple exposures indeed!

      Thank you kindly!

      Kind regards,

  13. Anonymous

    I prefer the first picture.We don’t know why. Maybe because it connects you with the feeling of resting and enjoying. I cannot give you advises; I am very proud of your work.

    • Hi somebody! I guess the first picture is most popular. Thank you for your opinion and kind words!

      Have a great day!

      Kind regards,

  14. I read through the opinions and initially thought the first one was the best. However, upon review–I consider the 2nd one best. It is because the first is for the human eye. Everyone is thinking about themselves as they view themselves on that bench I believe. I could be wrong, but it is the 2nd one that captures best for a photo. It brings out not only the bench where one sits, but also what that person is looking at….This may sound strange, but it is how I feel about it. I have taken both shots before and they are lovely.

    • Hi Alesia! What a coincidence that you left a message here! I just read through the opinions too! I am about to take some pictures at the heathlands and I’ll repost a retake of this photo soon! I tried to mix all your comments into a picture 🙂

      Your opinion isn’t weird at all, but just mine too! In the second shot I feel like a spectator of the scene. A person sitting on the bench might’ve been a great addition to the photo.

      Thank you so much for that thought, I really appreciate it!

      Happy Tuesday and warm regards from The Netherlands!

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