My question, how much of the foreground should I keep? I like the little bush but I don't feel like it "pops" enough to truly anchor the foreground. Then again, since I really want the image to be about the lighting relationship between the clouds and the crater, does it anchor it enough? What could I do to increase the "pop" of that bush?
This picture was never going to work too well and I was shooting it late morning and it was too hot a light and probably a bad time of year on top of that. Also, this was a trip with my wife where I was balancing her enjoyment with my photographic needs (and frankly my own desire to not miss out on the experience by spending all of it behind a viewfinder) so my composition is what I could get without too much time invested.
I think my newfound like for the picture was more pride in salvaging an interesting sky with my new tools than in taking a detatched view of the image. The tweaks I used here will bear fruit on another, more salvageable picture later so, still good experience.
I think the FG bush--particularly the lower front-- is kind of busy/messy (the sticks, or twigs):
I think there may be 2 different crops from the bottom that could work. One would be to exclude the FG bush entirely, leaving the other small bush to the left middle FG in place. This might involve cloning out some of the top of the FG bush.
Another might be to simply crop into the FG bush some:
I like the image. I have never been much of a B&W shooter -- I like it when it is well done. I am not sure I have the "vision" to get it right. I know there are lots of adjustments and filters that can increase drama in a B&W image, if you have the artistic vision and patience to work with it.
I also see this as one of those "pictures within the picture." I think just the light and the clouds, fog, or steam rising in the crater makes an interesting image, and might be tempted to crop the sky (which you were so proud of ) out completely:
If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .
I like Andy's crop but I would be inclined to crop it even further from the bottom so that it focuses on this pool, hot spring or whatever it is, as the source of the drama in the sky. Like Andy, I'm not a big B&W shooter but I like the idea that this caldron is brewing up a fantastic sky. I like that story a lot and I think I would really like the photo that tells it.
I don't think this is a throw away at all, I think it is very special.