Mesquite Moon

Our small (a good thing) workshop group was hiking over Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley NP to hopefully get some good early morning light on the dunes when I looked over my shoulder and saw the crescent moon close to the edge of the sunrise. A quick set up and the image was captured. It was a very good morning for light on the dunes and our workshop leaders got us to some excellent locations - thanks David and Jennifer.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • 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 generally like the overall image but a larger moon would have made more of a visual impact. I liked the progression of light from dark at the top to brighter in the middle back to dark at the bottom with some detail in the dunes. Not too sure if the dunes would look better (still natural) if they were lighter.

Technical Details

Nikon D-810
Nikkor 14-70 f2.8 lens
50 mm
1/4 second @ f2.8
ISO 800
Processed in LightRoom

1 Like

Nice to see a shot from one of their workshops and that you got to some different areas of the park. I fear going again now it’s so popular and relatively overrun. Oh if we could only order the moon around and put it in better locations. This just happened to me on a workshop as well. Sunrise, moonset and darn if it just wasn’t too high up in the sky to make the photo work. It’s a nice touch, but I feel this image just has too much sky, just like mine. The heavy weight and interest in the dunes themselves is the star of the show here, not the blankness around the moon. At least it is for me and like my landscape, I just scrapped the moon and concentrated on the landscape and what was on offer there.

Can you talk about the lightness of the far hill? It almost looks foggy, but that can’t be right, can it? It stands out so clearly that I am left wondering why.

Hi Kristen,

I have no explanation for the “lightness of the far hill”. Certainly not fog. I did go back to the half dozen exposures I took and looked at all of the original files prior to any processing - the lightness is there so not an unintended processing effect or artifact. Perhaps just simple haze or dust in the air.


A nice scene, even if the moon didn’t cooperate as fully as you would have liked. I think I can see a bit of earthshine, which is a lovely touch.

@_Kris, I find The Photographer’s Ephemeris is invaluable for the times you can control where and when you will be in order to try for a moon near the horizon.

This is a beautiful image that just exudes calm and peace. I love the colour gradient in the sky and the moon is a nice touch. Looking at the small version of the image, I felt that it was too bad that the moon was so close to the edge of the frame but actually when I then viewed the larger version it didn’t bother me anymore.

Diane, Tom and Kristen - Thank you for your compliments, comments, and suggestions. I welcome them and appreciate that you took the time to offer them. Re: Photographer’sEphemeris, I have successfully used that on several occasions to help me with sunrise/sunset opportunities as well as date planning for a specific photo opportunity.