Death Valley, winter clouds and fog

Image Description

As you probably know, Death Valley has had an unusual winter with lots of storms passing through, including snow in the mountains and rain in the valley. This was from a break in the major storms, but the weather was still unsettled and I was blessed with lots of interesting skies and light.

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

My biggest concern is the dark layer of rock at the bottom of the photo. I’m tempted to darken it because the slight blurriness is distracting. What do you think? Also, any and all other suggestions are welcomed.

Technical Details

focal legnth 200, f 11, 1/250 sec, ISO 800


Very unique with that line of clouds. Also a beautiful range of colors. Perfect timing that you were there, and you framed a nice layered composition.

Hi Tony,
what a breathtaking scene in some dramatic weather conditions. I love the mountain emerging from the clouds.

If I were to change anything about the image, it would be the colors. In my opinion, the top cloud is a bit too saturated. And the area on the right under this cloud looks pretty cyan to me. Both distract a little bit from the beautiful mountain so I would try to desaturate them.

The left part of the mountain and the dark bottom part seem to have a slight magenta cast.

Regarding your question about the dark layer at the bottom: did you think about cropping that area completely? This could add to the dramatic atmosphere.

I really love taking those pictures with the long lens. And you did a great job here. Your picture makes me want to stand there now and enjoy the view.

Very beautiful image. I should have stuck around for the snow storms. I played around with different ideas about this image but decided that none improved it. I, too, thought the yellow clouds were a bit too strong but some of the impact is lost if you desaturate them too much. I would not make the dark layer at the bottom any darker. If anything I would bring up the lighter tones in there. NPN’s dark background makes it hard to judge that layer accurately. What makes this image for me is the cinnamon color and the densely dotted snow but if you crop the layers start to break down. Congratulations on a wonderful image.

This is an incredible scene, Tony. You were fortunate with the conditions you had. Way to take advantage of it. What I immediately noticed with this image is the warm top half and the cool bottom half. It looks natural enough though. I love the warm tones in the upper half of the mountain with the snow and I think that’s what makes this image so special. I also think that the bottom portion of the mountain in the shade is just about right. I think darkening it would ruin the balance and lightening it would look un-natural. Great image, Tony!

Hi Tony,

This is a striking image in many ways.
The direction, intensity and fairly isolated light on those nearest ridges being the most striking in my opinion.
The horizontal line of clouds is the next most striking, then of course the upper overcast type clouds are great as well.

It’s a complex scene with the color and luminance separations and those separation seems to break it up. In other words, it seems there is no continuity between the upper portion of the mountains and the lower portion of the mountains.
The blue cast makes it seem like a layer of thick haze or heavy smoke which diminishes the overall depth and definition. Was there smoke?

I have no clue if the edit below is anywhere near what was really there but it does seem to pull everything back together a little better by eliminating the haze or smoke layer and by matching the colors over and under the horizontal line of clouds, again, just my personal take on it.
Either way, it is a striking scene! :slight_smile:

Feel free to ignore my comments and edit if they are not valid in any way.

1 Like

A beautiful shot; I particularly like your “rule of fourths” layering - and the great colour contrasts. Not having been there, I can’t comment on how realistic it is, but I’d leave it all as is - because you were the one who saw it. Blurriness at the bottom is no problem to my eye.

The reds in the mountain are quite striking. I don’t find the slight blur in the lower part of the image distracting. If anything it helps push the viewer back into the middle.

Wow Tony, this is awesome! What a grand scene you were fortunate to witness and photograph. I too think the layers are striking - and while the bottom layer isn’t the star of the image, I think it’s important. I wouldn’t darken it any further either, but I’m wondering if you took out some blue from the shadow more towards a greyscale dark; you could work the top clouds and the bottom clouds such that snow-capped cinnamon mountain the brighter layer of clouds take even more of the show.
The exposed rock areas in the LL below the clouds have a little red cast as well, another reason to desaturate that lower area a little.

Beautiful capture!


@Igor_Doncov @Lon_Overacker @Mike_Friel @DeanRoyer @Merv @Jens_Ober @ David Haynes@Mark Muller

Thank you one and all for the comments. I really appreciate the feedback!