Milky Way Rising on the early hours of the 4th of July

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

I like the lines from the top of the tree through the core of the Milky Way. I also am pleased with the light painting of the abandoned house in the foreground.

Creative direction

The awe of the Milky juxtaposed to an abandoned property. The contrast of time scales – a hundred year old home against light that has traveled millions of years.

Specific Feedback

I am interest on feedback on the composition and whether it conveys my creative intent described above.

I always appreciate any technical feedback as I am new to astro photography.

Technical Details

Shot with a Sony a7RV in RAW(M), which reduce the effective pixel density to 24 MP versus the 61 MP of the sensor (I do this to reduce unwanted star trails). Rokinon 14mm F/2.4 Series II lens.

Image was captured over 20", f/2.4, ISO 2000. Noise reduce in the sky via Topaz AI, color and WB corrected in ACR, and power lines and other small edits in PS.


This was a planned Milky Way shoot scheduled around the new moon. There are few Bortle 2 areas in the Washington, D.C. area. Some of the darkest skies are in the least populated regions of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

This is a single shot Milky Way image taken near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

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Very nice!! Lovely light painting and a well-processed Milky Way. I’m surprised there is an area that dark on the east coast.

Welcome to NPN!! I look forward to seeing more of your work and seeing your opinions on other images. I hope you’ll find NPN as rewarding as I have!

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Thanks Diane for your comments. Searching for dark sky spots here on the east coast is an adventure unto itself. Here was the location of the shoot (38.378858, -76.070727).

Wow! Great image Charles. Welcome to NPN. I love what you’ve done in this with lighting up the spooky old abandoned house. Your creative direction for this is interesting too. It seems like the efforts of man are shown to be fleeting while the Milky Way contrasts in its vast longevity.

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Thanks Ed! I love your phrasing – I may borrow it for my flickr page.

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Welcome! This is an excellent shot - fine detail, soft colours, and perfect comp.
Looking forward to many more from you!

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Thanks Sandy!

Charles, welcome to NPN and the Weekly Challenge. This is a fine look at this house below the Milky Way. Having done some balancing of human lights and starlight, I know how tricky that is. You’ve handled it well here. The age of the house is not clear to me, but the contrast between human and astronomical time and distance scales is clear. Having comparable brightness in the foreground and sky makes that comparison clear.

Firstly, this is a type of photo that really draws Robbo in - I love the peace and tranquility of such scenes. There is also plenty to look at. (I wrote this before reading the critique request).

I believe the photo could be improved by removing the lens distortion on the house as there seem to be converging verticals. Perhaps the horizon is not level. I am also not sure what the top 20% of the photo achieves. Maybe a 5 by 7 crop is ok because the milky way then terminates in the top lh corner.

The photo attached is rotated 5 degrees and then a bit of lens distortion removed, thereafter cropped to 5 by 7. I also used liquify in PSE to stretch the bottom a bit so my crop was not too severe.

I do love your use of artificial light.

After reading your request, I added …I also like the lines from the top of the tree through the core and I think the awe of the milky over minor human / earthly object is great.

I have taken the liberty of attaching a copy of your photo after I messed with it.

Thank you so much for your recommended edits. I did a first order correction for lens distortion but, based on your example, it wasn’t sufficient.

Wonderful capture of the Milky Way contrasted with the trees and house. I agree with Rob that there is a bit of distortion in the image. I don’t do much night photography, but I admire people like you who can capture the beauty of the sky at night. Love the colors in the sky. Welcome to NPN. I hope to see more of your photos.

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Thanks you. I had sent this photo to BayPhoto for printing, and once I read Rob’s comments, I rushed home, corrected the distortion, and resent it to BayPhoto back to BayPhoto in time.

It is too easy to overlook problems with your own images.

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