Horizontal vs Vertical ? Panamint Death Vally

![_DSC0212 Panamint Sunburst|690x459](upload://2I tAER1uBwIOrRCboQvPpPymfHM.jpeg)
This was at Panamint in death Valley with @David_Kingham in december 19
I am obsessed with getting a decent sunburst but as a Nikon shooter I realized that I would not stand up to Canon ( for this purpose only :slight_smile: ) - especially the 16-35
After some research I bought the Nikon 20mm 1.8. Fairly compact, relatively inexpensive ($750) which I could use for astro photography too - especially when on a wildlife trip overseas where luggage space comes at a premium
Unfortunately the area received a fair bit of rain - so no good mud cracks

Thanks @Keith_Flood, @Igor_Doncov, @John_Williams, @linda_mellor, @Ed_McGuirk, @Larry_Greenbaum
A very useful discussion on what goes into the decision making - will keep these in mind - especially Igors suggestion getting lower to emphasize the foreground
Made a couple of tweaks to reflect your thoughts
The horizontal has been cropped and AI sharpening applied
It looks like the main story is in the sunburst but this does not look natural as we humans see it

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Anything to improve the foreground especially

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Vertical or horizontal.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
BTW, i did replace a little brush in the bottom right with cracked mud
Handheld - 1/640sec F16 at 400 ISO ( 20mm f 1.8 lens )

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Sun stars can be so helpful for some situations, so I understand your pursuit!

For me the horizontal works better in this image; I believe it has better balance. If the foreground had better crack definition I think the vertical would be better, especially if you had lowered the camera and been closer to the cracking for a near/far effect.

I don’t have suggestions for improving the foreground. One benefit of the wet mud is that it holds the golden light reflection well.

I favor the horizontal as well. The starburst is exquisite. The horizontal image tells the story of this location best. Also, the comp is better. The triangular cloud zoom in on the starburst and really enhances the image. Great shot.

Karl, I prefer the horizontal photo because it helps me to feel the vastness of Death Valley. The lens flare is quite striking and caught my eyes immediately. It is so sharp, sounds like your purchase of the Nikon 200mm has already paid off. Wonderful photo.

My vote is for the vertical, but I think the vertical would be stronger if it was 5:7 instead 3:2 aspect ratio, and I would suggest cropping the vertical, just above where the sun-star lines end. Also, as a matter of personal taste, I tend to prefer symmetrical compositions, although I acknowledge that may not be to everyone’s preference.

My preferences for scenes like this are to go with horizontals whenever the sky has lots of nice clouds & color, and/or the foreground is super interesting. While there is nice golden light on the playa, it’s shapes and texture are so uniform looking, that IMO the horizontal shows more of it than you need to depict the nice light. Hence I prefer the vertical.

I have to agree with @Ed_McGuirk on this one. Even though there are many horizontal lines in the comp to suggest a horizontal crop the main interest is from the sun to the viewer by way of reflected light on the mud. The stuff to the right and left of this aren’t really that interesting. I would crop the vertical a bit from the top to widen up the image a bit because there are no strong vertical lines in the comp. In the future I would get closer to the ground to feature the cracks a bit more prominently. I think you caught this at the perfect moment in terms of light. Nice work.

I feel the horizontal would work better if there were an object of interest in the mud closer to the front of the image. I am drawn to the sun and then it’s rays of light and highlights on the drying mud so for me the vertical is more pleasing. Agreed with the other about the crispness of the sun rays and mud, well done!

That is quite a sunstar. Beautiful for sure. My vote is for the vertical because it eliminates most of the slightly distracting pool of water and shrubs in the two landscape versions. The vertical image just seem cleaner to me without those distractions and the longer foreground seems to lead the eye directly towards the sunstar and the panamints. The little bit of mud/rock in the lower left portion about a quarter of the way up and a quarter of the way in is an eye catcher that could be cloned out. I would also crop where Ed suggested cropping as I feel there is not enough going on in the upper portion of the sky.

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