Aerial View of Sunrise in Badlands

This was taken from a helicopter flying over the Badlands at 5:30am in June 2019. It was really awesome to see these mountains/hills from the air. I took hundreds of photos, but the morning glow only happened for a very brief moment. The sky was a very plain blue.

Specific Feedback Requested

I’d like any feedback, but would like to know if I should crop out the blah sky or if it gives perspective on the horizon.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Fuji XT2, 55-200 Fuji lens, 1/240, f 7.1, 134mm, ISO 400

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Hi Roberta,

The cop with our the sky works better for me. I’d even be keen to see a more intimate version without the grass. There’s some nice patterns and motifs to work with in the badlands.

Of the two presented, I prefer the one with the sky. That said, I would second @Nathan_Klein 's thought on cropping out both the sky and the grasses and only presenting the badlands. I find the background distracts me from the badlands rather than adding to the image. You captured some real nice light on the rugged country.

Great light. I vote for nothing but badlands.

Oh I really have to get over there one of these days. Just have to drive through pesky Minnesota!

I prefer the one with the sky and agree that if you’re going to crop, love everything except the rock formations which look really impressive from up there.

I like the rick color and warm light Roberta. Agree with the others about just showing the badlands.

Gorgeous shapes with the cool shadows against the warm light. For me, it feels awkward to cut into the top of the rocks, and I wonder about bending the colors of the BG to be almost the same as the FG. In that case, including some sky might work, as it shows the context.

@Eva_McDermott @Kris_Smith @Harley_Goldman @Ronald_Murphy @Nathan_Klein - thank you all for your comments and suggestions! I’m glad you like the photo. I cropped out the sky and the grass and the lower portion showing the two foreground rocks and have re-posted the edited photo (in addition to Diane Miller’s suggestion re-post). Your thoughts would be welcome!

Love everyone’s varying opinions! Many thanks for the great conversation!

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@Diane_Miller Thanks for your kind comments and the suggestion. I added some darkness (in Topaz) to the sky and grass and have posted it here. I’m not sure if that’s what you were thinking, but it was fun to try.

I like @Nathan_Klein suggestion to crop out both the sky and the grass, it turns the image into more of an abstract. And the shapes, colors and textures in this landscape have a lot of abstract potential. To me less would be more here.

I reworked your “skyless” version to add a strong vignette (edge darkening) to draw more attention to the center of the image.

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Yes, that’s what I was thinking. It looks like cloud shadows in the distance. It would combine nicely with @Ed_McGuirk’s vignette to emphasize the center. It’s tricky to keep the eye confined in a “tapestry” image like this.

Thank you @Ed_McGuirk . I like your rework with the vignette. May I ask what program you used for that? I usually use Camera Raw vignette, and I did add a cam raw vignette, but it got cropped out with my rework.

I usually use the Lightroom Effects (vignette) tool. I start with a raw file, and most of the time process the file further in Photoshop. I then save the TIFF file with out applying any vignette, and then the TIFF gets re-inported back into Ligthroom. I then apply the LR vignette in Lightroom to the finished TIFF, because I can keep changing the vignette non-destructively. For example if I decide to crop the TIFF later, I can undo the vignette, make a virtual copy of the TIFF , recrop it and then apply another vignette to the cropped version. Doing it this way leaves a lot of flexibility to change your mind later.

@Ed_McGuirk Wow, thank you so much Ed! I never thought of doing that, but it makes so much more sense than trying to do it in PS.