The Big Show (+1 re-edit)

With some more light in the foreground and especially at the ridge that is lit up with the sun -

So this is the money shot so to speak. A 7-shot vertical panorama taken on our second day in the Badlands at sunrise. I had it in mind to do a panorama or two and this was too good to pass up. I hardly ever do them, but I’m glad I did for this. Just amazing. I forget which overlook we were at, but it’s one of the many you drive to on the park road.

Now, about the color. It’s real. I processed a single shot with the group and so I had a head check about the saturation with one of the guides. We fiddled and looked at other people’s shots and it’s right. Yes I did enhance the shading to get some separation in the tones, but I didn’t crank the sliders hard.

Specific Feedback Requested

Anything to improve is welcome. There are more shots in the catalog, too, but I think this is the only pano series I took. Each was bracketed for insurance, but I didn’t need to do any blending since nothing was too blown or blocked.

Technical Details

Tripod with regular ballhead


7-image stitch done in Lightroom and that’s where I did the basic processing which wasn’t too much, but I did use a mask to bring up the exposure in the valley and also reduce the magenta for a more natural look. Topaz Sharpen brought up some detail. Photoshop to do some light sculpting using masks with dodge and burn layers. I hit the ridge with the sun on it a little and played in the clouds some. Lifted the mid-tones and gave them some sparkle with a clarity action and a mid-tones mask.

A beautiful scene. The sky colors are just lovely with the soft pastel tones. Those colors also balance nicely with the foreground. Great place for a pano.

There are some things I sure wish were there. The horizon feels too close to the center for comfort and despite it probably being completely level based on the terrain, it sill feels like it needs a small CW rotation. I would have considered and even wider lens, or done a two row (7 wide) pano to show off more of the sky. Assuming there isn’t more sky available from your images, I just tried to see what it would look like with more sky canvas. I also touched up the foreground to create a bit more light at the horizon and some targeted dodging to add a bit more character to the foreground.

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Kris, these are the scenes we look forward to when they happen. Like many things in life however, one must be there or participating to even have the remote chance of capitalizing on the opportunities. This was one of those outings.
A truly gorgeous image here… :+1:
Keith’s need for the slight CW rotation was noticeable and an easy fix obviously. Seeing his update makes me realize how I’ve personally been a bit relaxed in using the grid to verify horizon issues. His was a good reminder for me especially… :thinking:

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This must have been something to see live. What incredible colors in those clouds. While I do like Keith’s lowering of the horizon to show off more clouds, I think the picture is stunning either way. Great job on a wonderful capture!

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Kris, I wouldn’t change a thing here. This is absolutely stunning. I don’t see the horizon tilt at all (I checked it in PS). And it seems to comply with the rule of thirds as well with the horizon line almost at the first third line. I say print this and enjoy the wonderful memory of your workshop. Awesome.


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Thanks to @David_Mullin, @Paul_Breitkreuz, @David_Bostock for chiming in and to @Keith_Bauer for having a go at working it yourself. I like what you did with the foreground so I’ve done something similar and put another image in the OP. Sky is always subjective and there wasn’t that much more up there. I was using my widest lens and it hadn’t occurred to me to do another series so thanks for that. If I ever get an opportunity for another GL pano, I’ll keep that in mind.

And the land does go up slightly to the right - the hills are higher and so I didn’t see that the horizon was tilted myself. I do tend to tilt so I’m pretty sensitive to it and I use my in-camera level like a fiend.

Hi, Kris. This is a breathtaking image, to say the least. Being there must have felt like being in a dream. I’m glad you pointed out the colors. I really like the balance of land and sky. The edit with more sky felt somewhat unbalanced to me. The way some clouds point up takes away the focus of the Badlands. As for the horizon, I am convinced my eyes may be failing me if there is any slant on the horizon. I truly don’t see a problem with it. I see what appears to be another layer of mountains on the left side of the image. Perhaps that is throwing the image level for some. I have photographed scenes that give a false impression of a slanted horizon. Well, it is what it is. In my eyes, the horizon looks fine. One more comment about the details. I love them, especially the midground with that added light.

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Thanks much @Egídio_Leitão - it was pretty amazing to be on the spot for this. Seldom have I seen a nicer sunrise and we were all really excited about it. I’ll post the shot I took looking back to where the sun was rising across the park road. It is unbelievable. Glad Keith encouraged me to punch up the foreground since I think it makes the whole thing more inviting.

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The repost works quite nicely, Kris. Great bump on the foreground.

What a wonderful sky, with spectacular colors and shapes! The bit of lighter clouds in the distance on the left is not something we usually see in sunrise shots, so it adds a lot to the interest. I like the second shot with the slightly brighter light on the land.

My usual thought with horizons is to do whatever looks right. It can be almost impossible to distinguish reality from lens distortions (the canned corrections are not that reliable and don’t work with a stitch), and if something might look like a distortion to a viewer, I’ll fix it.

Stunning image Kris. I like what you did in your repost.

Thanks @Diane_Miller, @David_Bostock & @Eva_McDermott - glad the rework is a bit better. Processing is a delicate balance in just the usual circumstances; with this it becomes even more critical to keep things from being cartoonish.