Lenticular shadows

Lenticular clouds are the aurora of the eastern Sierra, and I’m constantly drawn to them. On this evening I climbed into the Carson Range southeast of Tahoe as I noticed the long shadows the fiery lenticulars cast on the distant evening horizon, parallel lines converging towards earth’s coming shadow. This “negative sunstar” is what draws me to want this image to work. Undoubtedly beyond my abilities, but it was sure fun.

I found the patterned boulder glowing in the manzanita and sage. It was worth a try.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any CC welcome. When the mountain light gives all the saturation one could want, should I back it off? I put a cool filter on the cloud to reign it in a bit.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any CC welcome. Is the boulder too heavy; it didn’t look that big until I stuck 17mm on it!

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Canon 5Div, 17-40mm at 17mm, 0.6 sec, f/16, ISO 100.

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What fabulous color! I just love the cloud and the twilight blue. To me, the cloud feels abbreviated by the right side of the frame. I wonder if you have any horizontals? Or if you had particular thoughts on the vertical orientation?

Thanks for viewing and commenting @Marylynne_Diggs ! So cool that I’d been reading, after posting this, about abbreviated clouds in conversations on other posts and I wanted to jump over and try to fix this (or delete it!). Alas, my new membership here at NPN and this first kind critique has garnered cool insight from really experienced artists (even if I just read along). I only did a vertical shot at this location in the very few minutes of color and rapidly diminishing foreground light. I was infatuated with the parallel shadows heading to the horizon and the opposite side of the canyon was almost completely dark and crunchy with random trees, snags, etc… so immediately set up vertical. It all seemed a cool tall scene, but “lenticulars” should be about “length”! So I’m off to try again! Thanks so much.

DC - (we’re pretty informal here, what name do you like to go by?)

Welcome to NPN! A fascinating first post for sure. Anyone spending any time in the Eastern Sierra are familiar with the lenticulars - and the Sierra Wave (and actually you didn’t call it out since maybe there’s some debate if this qualifies as a Sierra Wave - but really doesn’t matter!) But I was also getting to the dense colors we see in this part of the world.

Honestly, I didn’t pick up on the long shadows until you mentioned them. I think partly because of the dramatic cloud itself, but also because of the prominence of the rock. I’d go so far as to say that I think with the vertical comp and much real estate given the rock, that the shadows and rising earth’s shadow are kinda taking a back seat.

My thought would be a bit of a crop, perhaps down to a 4:5 ratio; some off the top, but more off the bottom. That’s a cool rock so I see the attraction, but it’s taking away from what’s happening in the sky, IMHO. With a shorter format, I think the elements are more balanced and actually focus or draw the viewer to the center of the frame, and whala -there are the long, cool shadows.


I’ll be curious about other feedback. I might be unique in my impressions, and you got this shot, which is still quite good. Another solution: try a 5x7 or 8x10 crop to reduce the impression of a narrow view. That might be the ticket.

Here is one possibility:


Hi @Lon_Overacker! This is so cool. You say it’s “pretty informal here”, but it’s also so powerful even at my first foray into posting for critique. I’m here to stay and learn (and maybe help/share, but, wow, every one is sooo good).

@Marylynne_Diggs also steered me toward the crop in a beautiful way, even dropping a wonderful example into the thread. Funny how, at the time, I was infatuated with the shadows, while loving the swirling mini-wave above me and then I get the image and process it a bit, and while the shadows remain prominent in my eye, I have now learned a bit more about what others would see, or not see! Thank you!

Silly, but always been a bit ambivalent on my name: DCraig to most photo and archaeology/geology friends (and, oddly, my wife), DC to my trail running compatriots, and Craig to my mom. Don’t call me Dennis. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Good morning @Marylynne_Diggs, such dramatic change with a simple crop fix. Thank you for the possibilities. @Lon_Overacker had a similar take, and you’ve brought it to life here. I’m really looking forward to thinking and applying this advise as I continue the chase. Thanks again.

DCraig, what a sight! Five years living in SoCal and I have not been able to catch the lenticular clouds in the Eastern Sierra yet. I actually like the 3x2 aspect ratio here. I think it works really well with the rock in the foreground. I hate to lose the foreground rock in Marylenne’s alternative crop. Welcome to NPN!

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While scrolling, I identified another possible crop that brings the top down to just above the ridge on the left, allowing you to keep more of the foreground rock and make the cloud appear to fill the frame rather than leave it.

All subjective…
A sharp and organized (in a human way) composition. Many leading lines to a uneventful center point. It’s very graphic, I see more human than nature in this.
TY for post

Stunning image, DC. These lenticular clouds are a sight to behold. I’ve been up and down the Eastern Sierra for 25+ years and only seen a handful. While it would be nice to see more of the cloud formation, I think your composition works well with the way you lined up all the angles and lines. Nice job finding that rock as it does make a fine foreground element.

I’m coming in late on this, but I find the image to be outstanding as presented. While I can see the merits of some of the crop suggestions, I prefer seeing the full amount of foreground in the original presentation, I like how the bush creates a secondary lead-in element.

The processing here looks great, it’s dark enough to create a mood, but it shows enough detail to let us appreciate the patterns and textures in the foreground. It must have been amazing to witness this in person, it’s the kind of moment we wish for but don’t see all that often.

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Thanks Steven, an interesting take. I think I understand what you mean, that my choice of composition reflects my view rather than capturing the essence of landscape and its elements, or the feeling of the clouds and light. I’ll have to think on this a bit. -dc

Thank you @Dave_Dillemuth! I appreciate the feedback. We’ve probably passed each other a few times in the 25 years! I’ve watched the lenticulars form so many times, but only recently have a been drawn to capture images of them. This is a fun learning process. A good rock never hurts!

Thanks @Adhika_Lie and @Ed_McGuirk, I really appreciate you checking out and commenting on my image (and I’ve been reminded to respond to several posts at once!, seems good advice). I’ve been out in central Nevada for almost two weeks without a single cloud; it reminds me how cool it is to get these lenticulars stacking over the Sierran front once in a while!

While no scientific sample, it seems favor is leaning toward something closer to the full image, though I dearly appreciate @Marylynne_Diggs checking back with another crop possibility. I love the options and will be looking at other images with new attention.

Thanks for the welcome everyone, it’s really cool.

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