Moonset in Sedona


The moon set within minutes of the sun giving the sky both colors and stars.

Specific Feedback Requested:

When are silhouettes too dark? The foreground is very dark against the night sky.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Is this a composite? (focus stacks or exposure blends are not considered composites)
Not a composite.

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Jennifer, by one definition, silhouettes are totally black (however, expanded definitions are fine with me and I think total black in this foreground would be too much). The mix of light, moon and stars is great and, as I know from experience, takes careful timing. The sky shows a significant amount of color banding, which may be from too much dodging or just the conversion process creating the jpeg. This is a situation were combining two exposures is the way to get a result with a bit more light in the foreground and full detail in the sky along with a properly exposed moon. Your exposure of the moon is right, but even as a tiny sliver, it’s so much brighter than the darker parts of the sky, which is likely the reason behing the banding. You have just enough detail in the ground, although the brighter bits near the bottom are a bit distracting. Overall, this is the kind of “almost night” sky view that I thorougly enjoy and this is very attractive as presented.

I agree with Mark that the banding is the biggest issue with this image. If you don’t have two exposures to combine as he notes, you could start over with some judicious masking and gentle adjustments to the sky. If you’re after color there, which makes sense given the weighty presences of the cliffs, you could use color grading to achieve that and stay away from deepening shadows too much. You could also experiment with opening the foreground shadows a little more. I like the sense of mystery and exploration that would help to foster.

Also I see that the photo is labeled Screen Shot…is that how you came up with the image to post here? If so, you might want to reconsider and use an exported jpeg instead. The quality will probably be better.

Definitely a keeper with lots of potential!

This is quite nice, Jennifer. I really like the sense of mystery and I love the sliver of moon just on the horizon. @Mark_Seaver and @Kris_Smith already provided you with a few good suggestions. I can’t think of any additional recommendations. Nice image indeed.