Milky Way at Balanced Rock +1 rework

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


The Milky Way over Balanced Rock at Arches National Park. 4AM, 25 degrees. It was worth getting up early and being really cold to make my first attempt at shooting the Milky Way. It truly was a thrill.

Specific Feedback

Any and all of feedback regarding composition, technicals and post-processing is welcome and appreciated. I am new at astrophotography so, all feedback will help me to improve.

Technical Details

Shot with my Nikon Z6ii and my Nikon 14-24mm lens. Shot at 14mm, f2.8, 25 seconds, ISO 4000


Welcome, Donna! I think you will find NPN a great place to hang out!

You got an excellent result, and a very impressive first post here, and an even more impressive first try at the Milky Way! It’s always helpful to post a larger size, but from what I can see the stars are well-focused and the very interesting galactic core has very nice tonal detail, with the dust arms reaching out to Antares well-defined. The exposure looks perfect and the bit of light on Balanced Rock is a very nice touch.

I see you have also captured a probable satellite. The sky is quite cyan and I would suggest playing with a more neutral white balance, although slightly cool is certainly a common choice. It’s a small point, but the UR corner goes quite dark. It would be interesting to lighten it just a bit with a gradient adjustment.

It’s always interesting for people to see a brief outline of processing steps, especially for astro images.

I look forward to seeing more of your work and reading your comments on other images.

Nicely done overall
Exposure for the MW seems fine - perhaps a bit too blue ? thats a personal taste
Whilst I understand that this is a night photo, i would consider bringing up the foreground exposre a little

Thank you so much Diane, for the welcome and the feedback. I have made adjustments based on your feedback and I really do like the end results. I appreciate you taking the time to provide a critique. I’ve included a rework with recommended changes.

Thank you very much Karl. I really liked the blue but, after adjusting the white balance to make it less blue, I like those results a lot more. I also added exposure to the foreground and think that was a really nice adjustment as well. I appreciate you taking the time to provide this valuable critique.I’ve included a rework with recommended changes.

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Hi Donna and welcome to NPN. You are in good hands with Diane for this genre of work. I tried some MW stuff and stunk so badly. You have hit it out of the park with this.

Site tip - If you do make changes and have a second edit, you can add that to your original post by clicking the pencil (edit) icon at the bottom of your post. This allows us to compare both photos in the viewer one after the other. You can also edit the title with something like + 1 Rework or similar to alert the group that you have done it.

Oh and you can reply to multiple people in one post by highlighting any text in their reply and using the Quote function. Another way is to use the @ symbol and choose the person in the list that comes up. Use the tab key to automatically select and fill the name in your reply. Hope that made sense!

So much better! Blue is a choice, but too much cyan is just not realistic. If you go warmer than blue (best in the raw stage) you’ll bring out more color in the very interesting galactic center. Warmer highlights can often be combined with cooler darks. There are a lot of possibilities. And the sky is often polluted with warmer tones from dust and distant lights or moonlight, which is very frustrating to deal with.

Hi Donna and welcome to NPN! This is a really fantastic image and I like how and where you placed the milky way diagonally in the frame above the rock formations. Mind you, I’m not looking at this on a very colour accurate monitor but I like the blue/cyan look to the sky. It feels quite energetic and sci-fi like. Also I actually really like the dark top right corner. the way the sky fades and darkens in that corner really helps balance the image out (with the dark landscape in the bottom left).

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Thanks very much Tom. I appreciate you taking the time to provide valuable feedback.

I love the overall composition. I tend to like the “bluer” version, though the cyan has more depth as it looks like some of the shadows in the foreground are lighter. I would bring up the shadows in the “blue” one and bring out a bit of color in the core. It is a wonderful shot!

Thanks so much for taking the time to provide feedback. I greatly appreciate it.