Moon Spire

I’ve been looking for a resource like this to help improve my photos. After hearing this site mentioned on the “F-stop, collaborate, and listen” podcast a few times, I finally decided to check it out. So, here is my first post.

This photo is from my recent trip to the Dolomites and Switzerland. On this particular night I was planning to work with a wide angle lens to capture the visible peaks from Passo Giau at sunset. When I noticed the moon rising over this lone spire I pulled out my long lens, and tried to work more of a telephoto landscape - something that is new to me. Heck, wide angle landscapes are new to me too . This is almost my second year with a “real” camera.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

All is welcome! Like I said, this is what I came here for, and I’m a total noob, so please crush me.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

All welcome.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

Sony A7II, ISO 200, 85mm (Sony 85mm f/1.8), f/8.0, 1/160sec, handheld

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You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.
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Hi Blake, welcome to the site! I look forward to seeing more of your photos. You have a good eye for composition! This is well composed. Next time I would try to get more of the foreground in focus. The out of focus flowers detract from the beautiful composition and light that you captured. Getting both foreground and background in focus with a telephoto can be difficult and at times impossible, depending on the focal length and distance of objects. One thing you could try is to shoot with a smaller aperture, like f 22. You will loose a bit of image quality due to diffraction, but you will achieve greater depth of field. You would need a three stop slower shutter speed, ie 1/1/20 sec, so you would have to shoot with a tripod or a much higher ISO. A more elegant way to get the foreground in focus would be to focus stack, combine three or four shots with different focus points and combine them in post. It’s fairly easy in Photoshop, Google it if you are interested and don’t know how. Again, welcome to NPN and please post more photos.

Blake, welcome to NPN and your first post. I agree with @Tony_Siciliano and his technical suggestions. Your composition does have a nice balance, well done! It sounds like you are fairly new to photography. I think you will find NPN to be a great resource for learning and growing as a nature photographer.


Welcome to NPN! Glad to have you here and we look forward to your images and participation. Don’t be shy!

I like this quite a lot. While I can’t disagree with Tony’s comments on the depth of field and wanting to get all in focus, I think you did well with your intended “telephoto landscape.”

One of my self-imposed “rules” goes like this. If you’re going to include something, include enough to make sure it’s obvious. Corolarries - if you’re going to exclude something, make sure you exclude all of it - OR, in this case, if you’re going to have something out of focus, make sure it’s obvious and all is out of focus. For me, it’s better to have a uniform, soft area like these flowers, then to have them partially in focus and/or having one or both elements soft because of DOF. Not sure if that makes sense, but to me it’s clear that you are focused on the rock, moon and sky. The flowers become just a colorful accent. If they were to be in focus, I think there would be contention or distraction with the rock and moon.

Not a big deal, but am kinda wishing the moon was slightly lower in the frame. But that’s getting picky.

Processing, colors, etc. all look great. Excellent first post. Welcome!


@Tony_Siciliano @Alan_Kreyger

Thanks guys,

I think I just accepted the out of focus foreground as being a part of using a telephoto lens. Thank you for the suggestions on a variety of methods to use, Tony. I think to preserve quality of the photo focus stacking would be the best method. I’ve been meaning to experiment, but I haven’t used photoshop since 2008 in a graphic design class.

This will be my next learning step… and then luminosity masks. I will google it, but do you have any suggestions on good tutorial videos for focus stacking? I appreciate both of your comments on the composition!

Thank you, Lon! I enjoyed your assessment of the subject and the flower accent. This is a good rule to follow, and I will try to keep it in mind when shooting.

I agree about the moon. I wanted it to be in one of the “thirds” intersections, but couldn’t swing it with the other compositional elements.

What if I were to move the moon in post? What if I were to enlarge it? I understand that this is kind of a grey area on what is acceptable. I think it would be ok as long as it was done tastefully, but I haven’t (and don’t necessarily plan to) manipulate photos to that extent.

Here’s one tutorial on focus stacking, I’m sure there are many more, but I’m not familiar with them. Regarding learning Photoshop techniques, don’t think of learning using luminosity masks until you are absolutely comfortable with layers and masks. That being said, it’s a powerful technique and I now use it on almost every photo I edit. The thing that I love about it the most is that it creates selections with feathered edges.

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Welcome…I suspect you may want/need a tripod, it will permit you to do a lot more with your camera. Go small light and cheap to start if your not sure you want to get into it. Most or all landscape image makers use a tripod.
A visit to DXO (a lens testing web site) will tell you (if they tested your lens) at what aperture you lens starts to loose sharpness. Good that your here. GL

The shape of that peak reminds me of the Grand Teton. Your choice to use selective focus works here. I like how you are using the peak to point to the moon in the composition. The little bit of color in the cloud above and to the left of the peak adds interest without detracting from the main subject.

I do have a tripod, but didn’t use it here because I wanted to catch the moon when it was still low on the horizon. I think it would have taken a bit of time to get it into the proper position. This was not a planned composition, but more of one I was drawn to once I arrived on site.

I agree with most of you that having the foreground in focus would have made for a better photo technically, but am interested in the comments saying the more shallow depth of field seems to work. Regardless of the usual rules.

Thanks for all the feedback. It really gets me excited about this platform.

Thanks, Brian. I was kind of unsure about the composition because every line is northeast trending. It didn’t feel as balanced as I would have liked, but the multiple positive comments on the composition are reassuring.

FWIW, I have often relocated the moon within the frame for aesthetic reasons. Shooting the moon at a different focal length usually looks funky to me, but a little nudge to a better location is well within your artistic license if you are comfortable with it. I generally note the change when sharing it here for critique, and it’s important to remember the change if you ever submit to a contest as they sometimes disqualify for that reason.

I like this image a lot, and I think if you do move the moon, you might try a pano crop as well.


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Welcome Blake! This is a great place and I wish that I know of this place (or rather, the earlier version of it) when I started photography. You’ve got some really nice suggestions here and I don’t have a lot to add other than saying that this looks a lot better than when I started. I am looking forward to seeing more of your vision!