Composition / People Preferences Please

So, as a follow up to my pano dunes picture… I also had some close-up crops and struggled to choose my favourite. Thoughts would be very much welcome

Any and all artistic or technical feedback would be welcome

Canon 5D Miv, 100-400mm Canon f4.5/5.6 lens, ISO 100 at f16,Shutter speed varies between 1/320 and 1/500

#1 Spread (1/500)

#2 Helping Hand (1/500)

#3 All Top (1/320)

#4 All Top Wide (1/320)

On a separate note - The wide version was my original crop and I recently saw another post with the more narrow / traditional ratio crop which I love… but am unsure if I’ll enjoy as much given that it ceases to become completely my own creation. Thoughts / etiquette advice? We live on different continents, he’s seriously talented and popular and our images will likely never be seen in the same circles… but still. :expressionless:

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

The first works best for me by far. The spread of the people creates a “pattern” and is complementary to the effects of a different pattern in the dunes. Meanwhile the clumping of the people and breaking of their pattern makes them more the focal point of the shot. If that at all explains what I’m feeling. I can spend a lot of time looking at the first, while the others get only passing interest.

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Can’t beat 'em, join 'em… and since you couldn’t really avoid the people, I think you did well to include them and make them part of the story.

I was thinking like Hank in terms of the spacing of the people in the first frame. That’s the best comp as far as the human context goes. But after going through these a few times, I find overall I prefer the last one best. For a few reasons.

First, I think the light (or processing?) gets better and better progressing to the best light in the last frame. Plus, something in the sky seems to change from frame to frame with the sky turning almost a fiery yellow (literally like a glow from a fire…) And with the better light, I like the highlights on the ridges better.

The other reason I like the square version is that this one the dunes are much more of the story and the people are an accent. Yeah, I wish the spacing of the first would have been there for the last… but what can you do? :wink:

And lastly, the wider version seems more fitting for the width of the dunes. The first 3 verticals the dunes feel cut off to me. Also, the first version (best people spacing) the light/contrast seems just a little flatter, but that’s minor.

In the end, great job making use of the human presence and still capturing fine dune images.

Minor nit - There are a few dust bunnies around. No biggie.


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Vikki, No question that the first image is easier on the eye, the spacing of dune walker is just more attractive and makes for a stronger comp. The processing or color in the #s 3 &4 is more interesting though and makes the hikers a stronger contrast. Not sure of your question on ethics and changing the format ratio because you preferred the look after seeing another image. I have looked at many images and have altered my approach based on what I liked and what I think works best for the photo. I might think your image is stronger with some type of panorama style, eliminating the bottom third and cropping the sky a bit. This accents the long slow trek through the sand. Because you did not shoot it that way does not mean that after the shot you can’t process it that way. Many times in processing I have asked my self why I did not think of “this or that” while shooting the image. You wider horizontal image is the way I would go as it compliments the natural dune ridge lines.

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I agree with Lon, I like the processing of the last one best, the higher contrast add more impact. I like the spacing of the people, and the composition best in the first image. I think having just one person at the crest of the dune is the strongest presentation. The first image has better spacing of the other 4 people , in image #2, two of them are nearly merged, which i don’t like. My vote would be for image #1, but with the processing/contrast of image #4. The contrast in #2 is pretty good too.

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Beautiful image. To my eye the sky is unnatuarally yellow in the last three images. I think the color of the sky in the first image is more congruent with the foreground colors and creates a very appealing pattern as you move from foreground to background. I do agree that the foreground pops better with the way you processesed the highlights and shadows in the last image . I would like to see the first imaged processed to give the foreground the look of the last image. This is probably just me but I would also spot heal or clone out the 3rd person from the top to give the chain of people more regularity and to enhance the look of the lonely hot struggle up the dune

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Thanks all… I probably should have mentioned these are rough edits to help pick which one I put the time in for, so really appreciate such thorough critiques. :heart_eyes:

Hi Vikki,
This is a great series any way you look at it. I see why some like the first image and others the last. In my opinion, I think you have a couple of really different images: one that is about orderly assent and patterns, another that is about multi-directional energy (not quite chaos).

I think the good news is that all work pretty well (I like the ones with some separation of the people more than the ones where they are close enough to touch). The real question is what do you want say with the image. They say different things, so consider which one communicates your intention (or which one now seems more interesting as a after-thought idea)


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Sumptuous light. I will plump for the square image, yes the spacing of the individuals is superior in the original post but the square format is most appealing in terms of its design. Of course there is nothing to stop you creating a square image out of your upright image (1st shot).

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As already mentioned the colours and processing look the best in the initial image. I actually like the last one best for the effect of the blowing sand on the edges. I would also clone out all the people except the left most person, who seems to be in the best looking pose.