Perseid Meteor Shower + repost

Here is a rework of the image, incorporating the feedback I received. I boosted the shadows in the foreground a bit but didn’t want to go too far because 1) it would reveal all the dead trees lining the edge of the lake, and 2) I wanted to retain a bit of the night darkness and not distract from what’s going on in the sky. I moved the bright meteor in the upper left in a bit as David suggested, and removed the tree poking into the right edge of the frame. I added reflections of the meteors onto the lake by doing a vertical flip, then distorting the flipped image to line up the stars and the Pleiades star cluster to match the actual reflection positions in the lake. Due to the distortion of the 20mm lens, a simple vertical flip of the sky would not line up correctly. I then reduced the brightness of the meteor reflections.

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Before arriving at this small lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, I had hoped to capture a composite image of several meteors radiating from the radiant point of the Perseid meteor shower. I used the PhotoPills app on my iPhone to frame the image so that the radiant point would arc from the horizon to the upper center of the sky as the night progressed. There were heavy clouds covering the entire sky when I arrived before sunset , but as twilight approached, they gradually thinned and dispersed. I took a shot late into twilight of the remaining clouds illuminated by light pollution to use as a base foreground image. To capture meteors, I used my intervalometer to continuously record images every 10 seconds for about 4 hours, resulting in over 1200 images. As I watched the sky during that 4 hour period, I saw many bright meteors streak across the sky, but very few seemed to be in what I estimated to be the field of view of my camera. I packed up at about 2am, somewhat disappointed that I didn’t capture the number of meteors that I had hoped. After returning home and reviewing my images on my PC, I was pleasantly surprised to count 47 meteors on the more than 1200 images. Many were small, but when combined into one composite image, I think they all contribute strongly to the dynamic of the final image, illustrating a clear radiant point from which the meteors appear to originate.

Specific Feedback

I am mainly interested in feedback on the overall processing of the image. It is a composite of over 50 separate images; one base foreground of the landscape at twilight, one of the clouds illuminated by light pollution, a base stacked sky image, and 47 frames with meteors rotated into their proper positions relative to the background stars. That’s a lot of processing to make everything look balanced. I am very pleased with the image, but I would welcome others’ comments.

Technical Details

The camera used was a Nikon Z7ii mirrorless with a Nikkor Z 20mm f/1.8 S lens.
Exposure data:
Foreground image: 15 sec, f/11, ISO 1250
Clouds image: 10 sec, f/1.8, ISO 6400
Background stars image: 15 exposures, 10 sec, f/1.8, ISO 6400, stacked in Stary Landscape Stacker
Meteors: 47 exposures, 10 sec, f/1.8, ISO 6400
Adobe Lightroom was used for the initial raw image adjustments
Stary Landscape Stacker was used to create a base background sky image to reduce noise.
Adobe Photoshop was used for combining separate images into one composite image. Meteors were rotated around a reference point approximating the position of the North Celestial Pole using the Free Transform tool. I made a small increase in the brightness of the meteors, and used the brush tool to dodge the brighter stars to make them have a slight glow.

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Keith, this image is stunning! I didn’t know you were in the area capturing the Perseids; Jennifer and I had been considering it but couldn’t find the perfect spot, and the cloud situation was iffy.

Your shot stands out as the best I’ve seen from this year’s Perseids. Your orientation of the meteors to the radiant is both skillful and visually striking, and the hint of the Milky Way in the background adds depth and intrigue. The reflections are a beautiful touch as well.

One thought that occurred to me is the possibility of enhancing the meteor reflections, though I understand that they might not have shown up well in the original shot, necessitating a bit of artistic license.

The only minor distraction for me is the large meteor on the left, almost brushing the edge of the frame. If it were my shot, I’d consider nudging it inward slightly, giving it a bit more space to breathe.

Overall, the colors are natural, and the composition is expertly executed. Truly a well-done piece, Keith! Your work continues to inspire, and this image is no exception.

Hi Keith,

wow, awesome image and a lot of work, congratulations! I don’t know if I would have accomplished that. And after I read how many steps it took, I feel a bit awkward, presenting you another edit.

But anyway, I felt like more details in the shadows (trees) and less details in the stars could maybe give more interest to the meteors and the tree line (at least to my taste). Maybe you like what I did. Anyway, great image!


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Thank you very much, David. Your comments are much appreciated.
I encountered two main problems with reflections of the meteors. First, there were only a couple of meteors that actually were bright enough to make a reflection. The one showing at the tree line on the left was part of the base background star image, so no manipulation was required for that one. Secondly, in order to make the reflections true to their positions in the sky, I would need to rotate them around a “reflected” polar reference point. I actually did that with the other reflected meteor, and it rotated it out of the lake. I also played around with using the Flip Vertical transformation tool in Photoshop to create reflections, but couldn’t get them to look quite right. I may do some more experimenting with that, but am concerned that it may be going a little too far with my creative license.
The large meteor you point out in the upper left was originally slightly out of frame after I rotated it, and I moved it in so that it was completely in view. I will take your advice and nudge it in a bit more.
Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

A double WOW!! Your captures and processing are so good!! The lake, trees and clouds are stunning, and the processing well worth the work! @David_Kingham summed it up – simply excellent! I don’t find the absence of reflections to be of any significance.

I shot a similar set of images (with a less interesting FG) and failed miserably, apparently on the timing. I’m guessing the peak arrived more at twilight here, on the west coast. So many previous years have been foggy.

I’m going to try harder for a clear location next year and put a wide-angle lens on the tracker and shoot the FG (if I can find a decent one) before I start tracking.

Thank you for your comments. You brought up a point which I was actually wondering about when I processed the image - how much detail should I bring out in the trees? I was concerned that raising the shadows too much would make the night scene look unrealistic, but I like what you did. I may not go quite as far as you did, though.

Thank you for the compliments. Yes, a tracker would have made the processing much easier, but I didn’t bring mine because I was already carrying too much equipment with me on the plane.
If anyone would like to see a tutorial of how to rotate meteors into their positions relative to the stars, I found an old you tube video created by @David_Kingham at

The more I look at it, the more I’m bothered by the reflections not being there. I would either remove the one or show them all, it just doesn’t make sense that only that one would reflect when the others are close to the same brightness. In my mind you’re already taking a lot of liberty by rotating the meteors in place, why not go all the way? :grin: Just be sure to darken the reflected meteors so they look natural. I also agree with drawing out a little more detail in the shadows.

I’ll see what I can do and repost a revised image incorporating your suggestions.

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Nooooo, don’t raise the shadows, please…Combining a FG with the night sky is always very delicate, almost always the FG is far too bright. You nailed it just right. Forget about details in the FG, they mean nothing in this beautiful image. The FG is merely the admiring spectator of the sky’s show.

I understand what you are saying - when I was there I couldn’t see any details of the foreground with my eyes, so that’s the way I processed the original image. However, I’m going to experiment with bringing out a little detail and present the result for further comment.
Thanks for commenting.

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Keith, this is a fantastic image! I agree with the suggestions to bring out some detail in the shadows, as well as the reflections in the water. This is an image I would have been proud to call my own if I had photographed it. Brilliant!!!