Critique Style Requested: Standard
The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.
A few days ago, the Northern lights went crazy. I had been watching clouds build all afternoon. Since I had to be at work at 6am the next morning, I was sort of relieved that I would not be out all night shooting that magic light. Then, at 10:42, my daughter sent a text message with a few photos she’d taken with her cell phone. I dragged myself out of bed, jumped in the truck and pointed it north.
I headed right toward a spot where I could get Bozeman’s well loved Bridger Mountains in the shot. The last time I was here, these grasses were all but covered in snow. I decided that despite the wind moving the grass around quite a bit, that this would make an interesting foreground. Right away, I started hearing Coyotes. It sounded like there were four of them. I also heard a few alarm calls from Pheasants. Coyote attacks are pretty rare, but I wasn’t feeling like becoming a statistic. Also that wind was pretty cold and standing in front of the tripod while taking series of images for a pano sends the cold right down to your bones. So, I hatched a plan!
I set the tripod up perfectly level and use the “virtual horizon” on my camera to make sure it sat level on the tripod head. Then the brilliant part of my plan; I pulled the truck up right next to the tripod and rolled down the window. Now I could operate the camera from the comfort of my seat! I sat there for over an hour and captured sets of images for about 30 panoramas. 29 gigabytes of data later, I headed home. The Aurora had ebbed and flowed all night, making it hard to leave, but at 2 o’clock and just four hours before I had to go to work, I decided to leave. I kept looking back to the north as I drove home and saw that once again, it had really increased in intensity, but sleep was calling more loudly than the lights!
Given that this is a roadside photo and I believe the grass is actually on private property, I couldn’t get much closer. I find the ditch area on the left side in particular is a bit off-putting. Given that this is a pano of single images, noise was an issue. I tried Topaz, but it left weird artifacts in the sky. Is the foreground ok with the noise that Lightroom left?
Sigma Art 14-24 f/2.8
ISO 6400, f/2.8, 6 seconds, 14mm
7 vertical image pano, cropped to 1.25:3
In Lightroom, I used a mask for the sky to increase clarity and contrast and one for the foreground to lighten shadows and reduce noise.