Going to the Sun Road - Pano

Hi all,

My first image I’ve posted here for critique is probably one I’ve spent the most time editing in over a year!

This is another from my recent USA trip to Glacier National Park and is a little different to my usual style - rarely do I shoot many panos, however I felt this scene commanded at least one should I could walk away with that demonstrated the grandeur of the landscape I felt when I was there.

I shot this right at the tail end of sunset - I missed the best light on the peak to the left by about 60 seconds, so made do with a flatter scene in terms of lighting.

I tried to keep a little bit of the light direction from sunset going in post-processing however it was hard to really push what isn’t there. I struggle with editing flat scenes like this quite a bit.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any is fine with me.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any is fine with me.

Any pertinent technical details:

Shot on a Nikon D810 with Sigma 50mm and Tamron 70-210mm lenses. Two row pano with something like 7 images per row if I remember correctly. The pano was shot at 50mm and the moon another exposure from the same spot at the same time at 210mm. I added the larger moon back in the same spot it was naturally in the sky.

Hi Sam! The panoramic format is definitely a good way to show the scale of this area. The foreground trees, when combined with the river and the mountains, really give a sense of scale. I don’t know that the stars are necessary for this shot though. Seeing as how you have some sunset light striking the peak, it is clear that the photo of the land was taken just before sunset. To me at least, the stars feel out of place. This is such a beautiful scene on its own, and I think adding the stars only confuses the shot a bit.

I would also be tempted to tone down the orton effect, and reduce the amount of red in the sky. I know that looks is very popular right now, but I think it only distracts from the really awesome scene that you captured here. Seeing as how the last bit of light is striking that mountain, I would expect to see a bit more blue in the sky and no stars. I took the photo into photoshop, and pulled down the middle of the red curve a bit, and it gave a really nice and calm twilight kind of feel. When I did that, the stars actually looked a bit more appropriate, which is interesting. The moon is fine with me since I know it would otherwise be a tiny dot. I think this is a matter of having a very beautiful scene that stands on its own without the additional editing.

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Thanks so much Ben! I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. I made a couple of tweaks along those lines. Re the Orton - it’s quite funny because normally once I’ve sharpened up a shot with TK a lot of it seems to go away so I compensate for that in editing. On this one it stayed and I wonder if it has to do with the enormous original file which is in the 200MP range. Appreciate the comments!

It is a grand scene, and I would second Ben’s suggestions. A straight post would probably be a stronger presentation.

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Thanks @Harley_Goldman but I’m not sure what you mean by ‘straight post’?


Excellent choice on the pano and kudos to you for the technical accomplishment on putting this together.

Can’t say I would have come up with the same feedback, but after reading Ben’s comments, I’d say his feedback is excellent! In other words, I only pick up on the red if it’s mentioned - then I can see.

The only comment I was going to make would be the effect/glow around the moon. Not sure if that is natural or as a result of processing. Not a big deal, but thought I would mention.

Overall I think this is wonderful and with a few tweaks, should be outstanding.


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I love this image! I am a moon guy and that moon is just great in this scene. Not sure though about the stars. Seems like the sky and the amount of light on the land are too bright to have that many visible stars, but then again. Like the others, the orton effect is a bit heavy for my tastes as well in the sky. The color balance does not bother me, looks natural and what I would expect at that time of the day.

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Thanks @Lon_Overacker - appreciate the feedback! I’m working on another version now with the changes suggested in this thread however life keeps getting in the way! As for the moon, it’s a bit of both. It shows up far more in the smaller version than the bigger version too, so it’ll tone down what I’ve added.

@Youssef_Ismail Thanks for jumping in mate and appreciate the kind words! I agree about the land brightness on this. I brought it up fairly significantly after the fact and subconsciously haven’t thought the rest of the sky treatment through. I think Ben hit the nail on the head with his comment about the change in the colour balance suddenly making the stars seem a little more in place, so I guess the process now is to find a happy medium there.

Looking forward to getting some of these changes made!

Hey Sam… this is really a beautiful scene and I like the choices you made in capturing it. I am a little late to this one, but I agree with some of the processing recommendations that have been made. I am sure they did look a bit more subtle with a large master file zoomed in for editing. Scaling down to web size can exaggerate some of the less desirable effects that are less distracting with a large source file.

I am really looking forward to seeing a V2 of this one incorporating some of the feedback you’ve already received. Well done man.

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Thanks Art! I’ve gone back to the drawing board a fair bit on this one and haven’t had the time to re-do it but I’m definitely going to post my revised version ASAP!

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I really like this as is with one exception and it’s a matter of personal taste. For me, the moon doesn’t fit. I don’t know if it’s because it has been enlarged but for some reason it doesn’t feel right. Otherwise this is a fantastic view!

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Funny that Tom because I tried to very consciously keep as close as I could remember to how I thought it looked in real life! It seemed that big to me even if it wasn’t and it’s my memory that’s shonky. :joy: