Ephemeral Light

I took this photo on my winter trip to Death Valley. The sun rose through a narrow gap between the horizon and the clouds to the East, and this light didn’t last long, maybe a few minutes at most.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Anything that comes to mind. Please be honest.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Anything that comes to mind. Please be honest.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

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

This was taken on Fuji Provia 100F slide film using a 450mm Nikkor lens with my Arca-Swiss F Metric 8x10 camera. I used a 2 stop soft grad to help balance the foreground with the sky.

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Ben, I recall this image from one of your Youtube updates. A very fine look at the Panamints from the Badwater area. Nice to see the impressive results with the Provia too…:+1:
I might make two minor changes for another look see. A crop at the top as there seems to be a lot of open area there. Also, as I always seem to find this trait with the V-50, is the magenta in the snow line across the mountain top. An easy selection of the magenta there and removal would make the snow pop some more I suspect.
Regardless, the composition is there just toying with slight changes to see if they might work…:sunglasses:

Ben, this is really a beautiful moment you have captured! I like the layers you have, especially the water reflecting that sky. I played around with the idea of cropping about half of the foreground and an equal amount off of the top. I am not sure it was an improvement though.
Nice work!

Ben I LOVE the light and the clouds in this. They offer such a nice soft look and make me feel very relaxed. Although I love the hills and clouds, the foreground, in my opinion, does not play as nicely together with the other aspects as I would have liked. The foreground appears very much the opposite emotion as the top half of the image. This is not to say the photo is not appealing as a whole - simply that I think a uniform color or more subtle foreground may have lead to a nicer overall image.

I do fully recognize with light that fleets in minutes - this may not have been possible! Bravo for getting the shot so quickly with your setup!!

hi @Ben_Horne!
what a wonderful capture. the light on the mountains is superb. as are the layering and the colour contrast!

as i explained on my post i tend to lean towards the more pronounced aspect ratios. others have already suggested cropping from the top and the bottom. the foreground “dirt” doesn’t really add anything. i like the foreground from where you have the bushy grass. likewise the top part of the clouds lacks interest (although it gives you a bit air to breathe). you’d end up with a good old 3:2 ratio.

here’s a quick crop preview i did:


at the end it’s a matter of personal taste - there is nothing wrong with the more squarish crop. you could also try something in between (only cropping the foreground and leaving the sky as it is).

in addition to the crop i added a dark gradient to the top of the sky to focus the attention on the mountains. i also got rid of the warm reflection in the lower right.

anyways. all that said, this is a beautiful capture. and if you like it as it is, it’s ready to be put on the wall.



Ben, this is a gorgeous image. I’ll start by saying that I like the tweaks made by @Joerg_Bonner. But to me this image is really all about the light and the color, and Joerg’s tweaks help accentuate those things. The light and color here is rich and intense, yet it is not even close to being over-saturated. You have processed the color in this image beautifully. I just love having the warm light on the mountain sandwiched between the cool tones in the sky and salt flats. And I think Joerg’s use of a 3:2 aspect ratio makes this “color sandwich” even more prominent.

Really nice work Ben…

Great to see an image post from you Ben!

Nothing like the rewards of being all set up and have magic happen for you. A wonderful and fleeting moment you’ve captured.

I’m with some of the others regarding cropping. I know I still like the ratio/format, but here’s my reasoning that I don’t think has been mentioned. IMHO, the horizontal lines in the water as well as the long, horizontal light, shadow and clouds right above the range - all are begging for a narrow format. As mentioned both the immediate foreground and the upper sky aren’t really adding anything to the scene. But I’m being nit picky. :wink:

Scan, processing, etc. all look great.


I can’t help but feel nostalgic whenever I see a post from large format film…

Beautiful DV scene. I also like the Joerg changes but the original works nicely too. Great layers of light and geography.

Great light and a very striking layered effect, Ben. I would perhaps vote for just something off the top where little variation is to be found, but that’s a minor nit - it’s a fine image as is.

Thanks so much for the feedback everyone!