Big Bend Milky Way at Balanced Rock 2

Image Description

This photo was taken during the early morning hours on a recent trip to Big Bend National Park from the site known as Balanced Rock. This was my first time visiting Big Bend. Even though I’ve lived in Texas for 20 years, I have not visited this area until now. The park has a ton of potential for creating unique images, and I hope to return several times in the near future.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.

  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I always have a tough time balancing foreground and sky brightness levels as I want to maintain a somewhat realistic scene. I’m also interested in composition feedback. If I return to this site, I would move closer to Balanced Rock so that it would be more noticeable in the view.

Technical Details

This image is a composite of photos taken at the same location during the same morning. I used a series of 15 stacked images for the milky way with camera settings of 13s, f/2.8, and 12,800 ISO, and 15 dark frames were used with Sequator to generate the milky way portion of this image. The foreground was shot a little later in the morning with camera settings of 9s, f/2.8, 1600 ISO.

I used my Sony A7RIV with the 12-24 f/2.8GM lens at 12mm.

Hey welcome back Greg. I like the sweep of the stars and they look fairly sharp. Wonder if the shadows there could be deepened at all without introducing problems. I don’t do any astro photography so I don’t know the pitfalls. In terms of the foreground I think it’s a tad bright because I find myself looking into it for detail that I wish wasn’t there. I also wonder if a tighter crop might suit - by keeping the brightest part of the image (the sky) larger in the frame it might keep our attention there as well. A grand landscape for sure.

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I, too, like the way the Milky Way arches through your frame. Lots of nice detail. The sky has a blue cast that is a little overdone, but that’s just my personal preference. My parents were recently in Big Bend, and now seeing this image, I’m thinking about making a visit someday.

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Hi Greg,
that’s a nice nightscape image. You have experienced a really great starry night at a location with very less light pollution. The Milky Way Core is nicely visible. I wish I could shoot skies like this in my country, but that is impossible due to light pollution.

In my opinion, the mountains in the far distance have a strong blue cast. The blending would probably look more natural if you desaturate the blues there and maybe darken the mountains slightly.

The rocks in the foreground seem to have been hit by some light (especially on the right side of the image). Was that already sunlight? It doesn’t really give the impression of a night shot.

I agree that the landscape looks really cool. Can’t wait to see your next results.

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@Kris_Smith , @DeanRoyer @Jens_Ober - Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate the feedback.

@Kris_Smith - that’s a good thought on tightening the crop. I’ll take a look at doing that with also checking to see if I can make Balanced Rock stand out a bit more. I’ll likely darken the foreground a bit, or I may shift to a shot that I took a few minutes earlier.

@Jens_Ober and @DeanRoyer - I fell victim to second-guessing myself before posting this and added more blue to the scene. I’ll back that off and take a further look at desaturating the mountains in the distance.

@DeanRoyer - it’s a tough park to get to due to it’s remote location, but I highly recommend a visit if you like southwestern desert landscape.