A Desert Planet

“A Desert Planet”

Thoughts of this place being another planet kept nagging my thoughts as I stumbled through desert brush. The transition of sunset to night reinforced this in my mind as I took this picture and post processed it.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

The rock gravel path in the foreground bothers me. Does it bother you too? I am more in favor of contrast and color (but not oversaturation) in my style. Please let me know if I overdid any colors knowing I prefer balanced but colorful rather than subtle. Let me know of any other things. Thank you!

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

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

Nikon D750 18-35mm @ 18mm f/11 for 0.4s ISO 100

If you would like your image to be eligible for a feature on the NPN Instagram (@NaturePhotoNet), add the tag ‘ig’ and leave your Instagram username below.


You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.


I think the image is stronger if you crop out the bare foreground to just below the bottom of the big boulder on the left. It will give the image a more traditional 3:1 panoramic ratio. My only other comment would be on the colorless portion of the sky between the reds of sunset and the blues of night. I know that in the nautical twilight, the sky does appear white-ish, but it seems a bit too much in this case.

What would you suggest to process that?


Here is a revision.

So what I did was to get a Lights(2) mask using the TK masks by Tony Kuyper. I then applied a curve and simply brought down the luminance. I then took a Lights (3) mask and did the same. This inadvertently pushed the saturation a bit to high for my tastes so i used a Hue?saturation layer through a Lights(2) mask to bring the saturation down a bit. This also tended to knock out some of the contrast in the orange area close to the horizon. So I went back through a Lights(3) mask with a curve layer and just used a S-curve to bring some of the contrast back in. It was a quick, but take some time and work it with a little more finesse. I think you’ll find that there are some underlying color tones in that blank part of the sky that can come through if processed carefully.

Oh, I also took the liberty of showing you where I would crop the frame.

Michael, I like your image as presented, especially how you use the rock and bush in the LLC to anchor the image. But think the adjustments made by @Youssef_Ismail take it up a notch, his crop really tightens up the composition.

My only suggestion would be to de-saturate the colors in the deeper shadows, since in real life shadows have lower saturation, and that is what looks natural to our eyes. I started with Youseff’s rework, made a TK Darks 4 selection, and applied it to a Hue saturation adjustment layer and reduced the saturation slider.


First of all, I think you did an awesome job capturing that transition - in a single photograph - that transition from day to night - or as you mention, sunset to to night. And to do this in a single frame is pretty impressive.

I think Youssef’s edits for the light values are right on and his results and explanation are appreciated - I would have toned down the “white-ish” sky brightness as well. I don’t know what was closer to your visual experience, but I like his edits.

As far as a crop goes? I’m not sure I would crop so much, maybe just a little, but not too much. The gravel area at the bottom doesn’t bother me. Maybe crop as far as to the base of the bush, but no more. Not a big deal either way for me.

Well done!


I really appreciate you taking the time to walk through edits for the sky, @Youssef_Ismail. It means alot. This sky was super challenging for me as this kind of scene and dynamic range of color is at the edge of my experience level. I will play with TK7 color masks and see what blend of purple to light yellow I get in the sky. I have seen your astro work and have mad respect. If anyone could help me understand the sky, it would be you. Cheers!

@Ed_McGuirk Thank you again for taking a look and providing your thoughtful feedback. I will also mess with darks 4 masking in TK. I am really digging how TK makes masking so much more approachable than stock PS.

Thanks @Lon_Overacker! I will play with the crop a bit based on @Youssef_Ismail and your thoughts and see what I like best. Yeah, this shot was definitely pretty epic to take in one shot. No bracket or HDR or blending happening here. It is a tribute to Nikon’s sensor in the D750 and those amazing NEF files for recovering colors that you didn’t know were there.

Overall, I wanted to see what you all thought as this was super experimental for me and didn’t know if this would resonate. Ill post a rework soon!

Here is the reworked version. I tightened up the crop and blended the sky colors as suggested. I also did some levels on Darks. I also brought down the moon more.