White Mountains Lightshow

My brother Ed and I had a nice meetup with Patricia Brundage and Ed McGuirk this past weekend. Patricia had to leave us early and missed this show on our last morning there.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all is appreciated.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Nikon D800, 26mm, 8 sec @ f/22, ISO 100

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

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Lovely photo! I have two suggestions: first, try lightening the foreground a bit. Second, the bright empty sky on the top left draws the eye there. I would consider cropping off part of the top so that there is no empty sky above the large cloud, and I would selectively darken the empty sky on the left.

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@Tony_Siciliano, you are quite right. I was so enthralled with the great cloud show, that I did not compose the FG lupines with enough attention. Regarding the ULC, with my limited PS skills, I don’t know how to tone it done without making it muddy looking.

Mike, it was a pleasure shooting with you this past week at the NPN New Hampshire meetup. I had to pull some strings with the photo gods, but was able to order up these lenticular clouds for our last morning. They owed us after all that rain earlier in the week.

This image is a great example of how the best light show often happens before sunrise, that 3:30 am wake-up call was certainly worth it. I like the composition, those clouds were so spectacular that they deserve being the centerpiece. I often shoot lupine landscapes as vertical images, but these clouds were so good they begged to be shot as a horizontal. I also like the receding layers of color, the blue lupines, green grass, yellow buttercups, and the magenta clouds.

I agree with @Tony_Siciliano about darkening the sky in the ULC. A good way to do that would be using luminosity masks to pull back the brightest highlights, or blend them in from a darker bracket. I might also try warming up the landscape slightly, the greens in the grass look a little too cool for my taste.

Thanks @Ed_McGuirk. Nice of you to show us around. The whole scene is a little cool for my tastes. I just made a quick jpeg for presentation and should have tried adjusting the white balance.

So glad you captured a beautiful sunrise. Just wish I had been there. I disagree about cropping the sky. The cloud colors and shapes make the image. This would be perfect for a metal print.

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What a glorious sunrise! Those colors are just gorgeous and I think you’ve rendered them beautifully.

Given the time of day - pre-sunrise I think the luminosity in the grassy field and lupine is balanced quite beautifully with the available light from the sky. The color and saturation look spot on to me and my monitor.

I would agree a bit with Tony re: the brighter UL sky. Not an image breaker as there is some color and it’s clearly not “blown out.” I thought I would take a stab at it and tell you what I did. Now I’m not claiming what I did is the best or right way, only that’s just what I’ve done.

Basically started with a simply Burn adjustment layer and painted around with a soft brush at 5% opacity. Such light opacity allows you to literally gently paint, burn down the brightness. The other attempt was adding a Light’s Luminosity mask on a Levels Adj layer (Curves works too for those more comfy with Curves.) I brought the mid-point of the curve down quite a bit. Now of course this is a global adjustment, so I basically applied black to the layer mask - then just like on the burn layer, used a small opacity soft brush with white to paint in the decrease in brightness selectively and gently in the areas I wanted to darken a bit. changes are subtle, but I like that it brought back a little blue in that part of the sky.

Let me know what you think.

oh, I cropped a very little off the left and bottom

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That was a spectacular light show with some amazing clouds.that particular morning. So glad I was there to witness it with you and Ed. I think Lon’s couple of tweaks have elevated an already gorgeous image another notch. I actually like the horizontal format as it gives the scene a little room to breath so to speak. It just lends an airy and more wide open feel to the scene.

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I agree that the brightness of the sky is fine in the ulc. The sun is rising from that direction and you would expect that area to be brighter than the opposite side. There is no reason to make the sky tones the same across the canvas.

Hey @Lon_Overacker, thanks for taking the time to rework the image. Looks good.

Beautiful, Michael. I like Lon’s rework, but the original works as well. Beautiful conditions and beautiful result.