Mordor Descends on Death Valley

This was shot in Death Valley, during a rare weather event, in which low clouds covered the mountains and hills all over the valley. It was as if Mordor had descended on Death Valley or as if we were transported to the Italian Dolomites.

Camera: Canon 6D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Focal Length: 200mm
Aperture: f/11
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all comments welcome.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any and all comments welcome.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Edited in Lightroom and Photoshop

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Another cool image Jimmy! So lucky to have got conditions like this. I love shots like this with clouds swirling round the mountains.

My biggest point of critique is the immediate foreground. I don’t feel that it adds anything to the image. It draws my eye away from the amazing mountains. I had a go at cropping but was left with some corners of dark. I cloned them out to show what it would look like without the foreground there. To me it makes the image a bit more mysterious. Almost like they are floatingThink a slightly tighter zoom would have helped here.

To my eye, the blues in the sky looked a bit underexposed and there seems to be a bit of polarising effect there too or maybe selective burning? In general the processing looks fine, maybe slightly on the flat side. You could try adding some contrast to the sunlit slopes and see what that does.

In a perfect world, it would have been cool to see the clouds covering that patch of blue sky. It would have added more mystery to the image. It would have made a subtle yet compelling difference.


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Beautiful photo. My only suggestion is to get rid of the very noticable halo between the bottom dark rocks and the first layer of clouds.

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Fabulous conditions Jimmy. I agree with Tony on the halo between the rocks and clouds but I think Eugene’s proposed crop eliminates that.

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Hi @Jimmy_Arcade, very good shot in my opinion. You found a beautiful light in a spectacular lanscape. I love the light on the mountains sky tones. Regarding the low clouds i would reduce the highlight, i see these clouds a little bit too bright. Thanks for sharing.

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I found the ridge at the bottom initially out of place as well. However, I think that’s mostly due to the dark NPN background that confuses the composition. If you add a light frame around the image the comp starts to feel stronger and you see how much that ridge adds to it. I still felt it was too dark and tried to provide a bit more detail in all that darkness. I also brought down the brightest highlights as suggested.

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Hi @Eugene_Theron, thank you for your encouraging and helpful response. Apologies for the delay in responding, as I was chasing seascape bioluminescence this past week and was a bit tired from doing so in the later hours of the evening.

I had also worked with different crops to remove the immediate foreground, but I felt like the bottom ridge gave some shape and contrast to the clouds. I do like this version with the cloning work you did and the floating cloud effect, so I’m thinking about it. I also like the version @Igor_Doncov posted (thank you, Igor!), which keeps the ridge, but brings out a bit more detail in it.

I agree about the sky being a bit underexposed and that was intentional. I wanted to go for a moody feeling, but didn’t quite apply that mood equally across the image. So, your suggestion to add more contrast is well received. I feel like I either need to go full on moody or create more consistency throughout the image.

I also agree that it would have been nice to have the clouds cover the sky above, but I had to take what was given me. And, while a tighter zoom would have been ideal, I was limited by my 70-200mm. Others with me had a 100-400mm and I was envisioning what I could capture with that, at the time.

I’ll be re-working this image when I get a chance. I has taken a back seat to some other shots I’ve been working on, but may make a comeback, shortly.

Thank you so much!

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Thank you, @Tony_Siciliano! Yes, somehow I missed that. I suspect it’s because I’m accustomed to looking for halos on the line between the sky and background structures. Good catch!

Cheers, @Eva_McDermott! I appreciate the confirmation.

Much appreciated, @masdamb! Thank you for the positive feedback and suggestion about reducing the highlights int he low clouds. I agree with you. Cheers!

Many thanks, @Igor_Doncov! Your demonstration of the white frame really helped me to make a decision on this, as I was having a hard time deciding if I should remove the ridge or not.

Your suggestion to brighten and add detail to the ridge is a good one. It really makes the image feel more cohesive.

And bringing down the highlights, globally, also seems more balanced. Unless I decide to go with an overall moodier version, this works really well.

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback and demonstrate your suggestions through those edits.


Yeah you’ve got to decide what is best and what best fits your image. This is only my interpretation at the end of the day :slight_smile:

Look forward to seeing what you come up with when you get a chance to edit it!! (oh, and I’d love to see some bioluminesence shots - it’s still something that has evaded me)

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