The Red Centre

We still have travel restrictions up here in Canada so I’ve hit my archive to finish off some older images. This image is of the iconic Uluru on the new moon - less iconic at night as written permission is required to be in the park after sunset.

Specific Feedback Requested

There’s a couple of things which I’m wrestling with. One is whether the image is too dark? The central Australian deserts are some of the darkest skies around.

The other is composition. I’m not sure if this framing is balanced or has tension?

Any input is appreciated.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: Yes
10 images stacked for noise reduction.


This is wonderful, Nathan. I myself do not think the image is to dark; looks pretty good to me as it looks natural. I have seen plenty of night images where the FG is so bright they almost look as though they were taken in the daytime. I also have no problem with the balance. Was the MW moving left to right? I ask because I would be curious to see it a little more to the left. Really nice job on the noise reduction as it looks pretty clean. What was your ISO? Anyway really nice job here.

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Sweet image Nathan. Hardly any star trails, even at the edges which is unusual. I definitely don’t think it’s too dark. Most Milky way images are too bright and don’t look natural to me. I think you hit the sweet spot here. I too wish that the MW was a little bit more to the left so that it was not coming out of the corner of the frame but it’s a very minor nit for sure. The image looks pretty well balanced with the exception of the MW being more heavy on the right side of the image but the Butte nicely balances that out. Really good MW image. One of the best I’ve seen in a while.

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Is the image too dark? It’s a personal choice of what you want it to look like. I guess that’s obvious. Having seen this rock before I miss the absence of its red color. If it was me I would lighten things up a bit and push the reds in the rock while diminishing the darkness and contrast in the sky. I would shift the emphasis from the sky to the rock. My thinking is - why take a picture of this rock and then diminish its importance? As presented, it could be any area in the world, the US Southwest.

Nathan, a great image. It is not to dark, IMO too bright foregrounds make this type of images look unnatural. You have found a good balance between a natural look and showing the amazing rock. It is a great compositio, the heavy solid rock is balanced by the milky way lever arm.

It must have been a great experience to visit this amazing place during nighht.

Technically, the sky is extremely well done here, great job on color, contrast, noise reduction etc. It is amazing how many stars you have captured, it must be very dark with clear air.

Another vote for wishing the MW was more to the left. It’s not a deal killer, but that ULC has a lot of empty space (literally). Perhaps consider a slight crop from the top?

I do not think the image is too dark. But I agree with @Igor_Doncov that I wish Uluru stood out a bit more. One move in that direction might be to darken the grassland, but not Uluru itself. Then make a selection for Uluru, and shift the hue a bit more red or warmer, and increase its luminosity slightly.

Your Sky looks just wonderful, and your foreground is not to dark.
On the other side I do think is a little unbalanced with all that space left on left sky.

Not too dark for me. Looks just right IMHO. Sky looks great. Very minimal star trailing at the corners. Must be a great lens you’re using. My only small nit agrees with the others wishing the MW was a little more to the left.

@Ed_Lowe @David_Haynes @Igor_Doncov @Ola_Jovall @Ed_McGuirk @joaoquintela @Michael_Lowe

Thank you for your input on this image. I take your point Igor about the rock not really standing out. The light is certainly flat here as the sky was so dark - for reference in central Australia you can see the milky way from horizon to horizon with the naked eye. I’ll experiment with some dodging and HSL adjustments.

Unfortunately I left to go and shoot nearby Kata Tjuta when the core was more to the left of frame but I think I can refine with a crop slightly.

@Ed_Lowe This was shot at ISO8000 at 15s. The noise reduction was achieved through the starry landscape stacker software which I recommend.

Wow! I just discovered this and had missed it before. I love the upside-down MW down there! I think the lines on the left side of Uluru pointing to the MW helps justify the composition, and I’d hate to crop off part of either the rock or the MW.

There must have been a little moonlight on the scene – I can’t imagine that much ambient light out there. I think brightening the rock just a bit might work, but it’s tricky. It is probably due to SLS but it has a bit of a cutout look. Even out there, I’d expect the stars close to the horizon to be just a little dimmer.

At any rate, an excellent job. Processing on the MW is very realistic.

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