My Deathy Valley Lumps

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Death Valley was my last destination before COVID, so I decided to “get back up on that horse” this winter. Managed to get 2 full days of shooting in, which, at my age, means two 3-hour afternoons. On both afternoons, brought my Intrepid 8x10 view camera as well as the Nikon D-850. This is with the Nikon.

Technical Details

Nikon D-850, 20mm Nikon, 7 images stacked for focus with an additional one 2 stops lower for the sky. A bit of dodging and burning in post to put more relief in the dunes.


Stunning image, well done. Technically amazing technique. I’ve never seen a Death Valley photo with dunes like this. My subjective taste would be for less saturation in the sand.

1 Like

Michael, I am actually in Death Valley as I write this! Thank goodness for satellite link ups! the park has received so much ‘weather’ the past few months. So much looks different every week or two after the rains that come through. I like the softer rounded feeling of the dunes here. I love the mood in your image, too, however I do feel the dunes are a bit too dark, possibly too saturated although that may be because of the darker tone… It’s all subjective, of course, and I am not suggesting a huge lightening, just a tiny bit perhaps. You don’t want to lose the overall mood.

Very nice, and unusual shapes on the two dunes toward the upper right. The work with focus and exposure stacking paid off.

It feels a little underexposed and the histogram confirms that – maybe worth a tweak for just the ground to have a look – but maybe you did that.

When I opened it in PS I got the warning of no profile. It does appear to be sRGB but some browsers will do strange things to colors id they don’t see a profile.

Michael, the leading curve of rippled dunes looks great and sets the stage well for the rest of this vast scene. I’m enjoying the textural change between the dunes and the distance mountains. I do agree with Brenda that the dunes seem too golden/brown.

I love the tree-dimensional look of the dunes and the warm color of them, may be a bit over saturated but this creates the mood of the sunset.