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PhotoZAP 78: Welcome To My Nightscape
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PhotoZAP 78: Welcome To My Nightscape

Our Panel of Perfectionists Picks Apart Your Pictures


"If it weren't for the hot spot at the base of the formation, which pulls the viewer's eye away from the rocks, I'd say you have a winner here." -Mason Resnick

©  Richard Ryer, Arches National Park, Utah. Gear: Canon EOS REBEL T3 with Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II taken at 55, f/5.6, handheld. Shooting Mode Portrait: 1/320, 100 ISO.

Photographer’s statement:
"I am trying to figure out how to get good night time photographs that are unique and interesting. My biggest problem right now seems to be noise from the ISO and shutter speeds. The other challenge is getting enough light onto the subject. I am experimenting with flashes, flashlights and portable spotlights. I find that the light source gives different color and detail. I would like to try gels on the flashes to see what happens

Our critics say...

Jena Ardell:
I was really impressed by this image. I love the composition and the exposure on the rocks is amazing, however, the light source in the center of image is far too distracting. The light source could have been concealed by placing the equipment elsewhere or by bringing an object to block the equipment. I would have liked to see the stars more brightly/clearly. An HDR-type of composite could have achieved this, or perhaps tinkering with a longer exposure. I actually like the cool white light on the rock, but a warming gel on the flash(es) would have created a richer saturation, which I might like even more.

Mason Resnick
If it weren't for the hot spot at the base of the formation, which pulls the viewer's eye away from the rocks, I'd say you have a winner here. I like the way you are willing to experiment and take chances, but there are ways to reduce the risk of problem exposures. Chimping (checking the image in the viewfinder right after you shot it) would have shown you the hot spot, and at that point you could have made adjustments in the flash position or blocked the light where it wasn't wanted. As for noise, I'd use your camera's native speed, ISO 100, and pump up the flash as much as possible to compensate; add additional flash pops if needed.

Brandon Partridge: I agree with both Jena and Mason. The bottom portion of this photograph is completely unusable. From your description it sounds like you did a lot of experimentation to pull this off—that’s commendable but still, the flatness common in SOOC (straight out of camera) images needs to be addressed. Anyone familiar with this landmark knows the arches are clay-red and clay-orange. I don’t know if it was intended, but those colors don’t hold true in this photograph. It would have been better if you had taken this shot from an elevated position behind the strobes, or in front of the strobes with the camera canted up. I’d then take this image into Photoshop and bump up the brilliance and warmth to bring out those natural rock colours. Then I’d emulate a bleach bypass: bump up the contrast to sharpen the stars and other rocky features, and desaturate the blacks so the stars stood out even more.

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