Twilight time

Edit - image re-uploaded following some tweaks to the stars.

Hello folks. Another new one from me that I would love your thoughts on.
This was taken a few weeks ago at a local beach and I shot it with a twilight blend in mind.
I’ve never shot at night/the stars before so this was my first attempt.

This has had a bit of work done in post to combine the blends, colour grade, lots of cloning (to remove lots of rocks), add star glow and a slight Orton.

Any feedback on composition and post would be great. I love the nice sweeping inlet that leads the eye through the frame. I can’t see anything that particularly draws the eye away, distracts or unbalances the image but I’m happy to be told I’m wrong!

Thanks in advance

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Hi Chris! I love the coloring in this image, the whole atmosphere presented really works for me. You found an interesting fg with lines and little waves in the sand, you had a beautiful sky and the stars nicely add to the image.
My nitpicking would be to note that the reflection doesn’t match the sky, probably due to the different exposures you needed to get all the different shots. I noticed one softer patch of sand/edge just to the left of where the rocks are/stop in about the middle. Did you do some cloning there?
Other than this I’m just enjoying this! :slight_smile:


I’m really liking this. My only small nit is what @Ron_Jansen mentioned. The reflection doesn’t match the sky, but probably only other photographers would actually notice this.

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@Michael_Lowe Haha, you’ve got a good point there Michael… I sometimes forget that photographers see so mcuh more :stuck_out_tongue:


Hi chaps, thanks for the feedback. Yes the sky is slightly different although I did try to find an exposure that was close enough to pass to the untrained eye. Any ideas how to make it look more similar?

I’ve done a huge amount of cloning @Ron_Jansen so it’s very possible. I’ll get in close and have a look. Thanks for pointing it out.

Thanks again


This is one gorgeous and fantastic night sky! Great work with the stars and the presence of the clouds is pleasantly contributing to the overall beauty of this image. Love the color as well.

Looks to me like your blending, cloning and processing looks pretty dang good. I don’t see any anomalies. Great job.

I’ll have to agree with the comments about the reflection - also the fact that the average non-photo viewer is not likely to pick up on this - only us nitpicky 'togs. :slight_smile: For me, it’s not so much the reflection not necessarily matching (clouds not aligned., etc.) but the thought that the night sky, stars, clouds are so awesome… I think way over shadows the sand and pool at the bottom - and the sky is given smaller real estate as well. Yes, I can see the nice sweeping inlet and yes, it works, but the whole lower part of the image, IMHO, pales in comparison to what’s happening up top. And not to belabor this point, one of my initial thoughts was, I want to see MORE starry night sky!

Don’t get me wrong Chris. This is a great night time seascape and you did a great job processing this.



Tough one I think… if you need multiple expsoures and focal points to capture all you need, you need time. If you need longer exposure times and it’s windy, clouds will move and not align with the reflection…
The only thing I can think of is the most logical I guess: taking two exposures as quickly as possible after each other, just for the cloud alignment, using hyperfocal distance for focus and checking beforehand if all is sharp. Things that do not move, like the sand, can be focus stacked before or after if needed. I wouldn’t like fixing the reflections for lining up in post, it might quickly become a mess :wink:
I try to keep an eye out for moving things when I think about shutterspeed and what I need or want. It happens I take another shot with higher ISO and faster shutterspeed just for the moving parts. But that’s generally not the clouds or reflections, but trees or grass…


Chris, I like the image overall. Your processing of the twilight mood is very well done, the various tones of blue here are wonderful. I like composition, it’s a nice arrangement of the sand bars. The mis-alignment of the clouds and reflection is probably very tough to correct in post-processing. I think @Ron_Jansen has given you some very good advice about how to attempt this again in the future, and trying something like this again would be very worthwhile.

This may get into subjective personal taste, but to me something looks a bit off with the stars, especially when you look closely at them in the larger image. To me they seem too bright, with funny looking edges. You said you did something called “Star Glow”, I’m not familiar with that technique, but it may be causing what I am seeing here. Perhaps dial that technique back slightly ?

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This image is a good commentary about the ‘truthfulness’ of photography.

If, as we often read these days, photography has the artistic license to modify an image any way one sees fit to meets one’s ‘vision’ then why be concerned about cloud reflections don’t line up properly? If accurate representation is not a concern with wild colors and image distortion then why worry about these clouds. And yet, worry we should. The inaccurate reflection is not being nitpicking by fans of photography, something the general public wouldn’t notice or care. I’m pretty sure they would care. If someone bought this print and realized several months down the road that this is inaccurate they would be pissed. Perhaps some buyers would wave it off as artistic license by a photographer but most would not. There is something about the medium of photography where the viewer still feels that they are seeing reality and they don’t like being deceived. That’s my opinion.

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Thanks everyone. I agree about the stars, I’ve since gone back into the file and cloned some of the brighter ones out that didn’t sit with me too.

I completely see your point @Igor_Doncov (and appreciate your feedback as always) but I guess it comes down to what you want out of photography and what you are portraying it as. From my point of view I enjoy the post processing just as much as being in the field and from a buyers point of view they would know exactly what they were looking at as I’m always up front about it. I have few very ethics when it comes to post processing and if I ever came to sell prints then I would make this clear. There certainly seems to be a market for it as long as the likes of Ryan Dyar, Erin Babnik and Enrico Fossati etc are still successful.

I think its one thing manipulating a scene beyond reality but another to pass this off as reality to earn a buck.

And so the debate continues :grin:

I had another thought about this that I would like to add. The drift away from realism in art occurred with impressionism. But even impressionists, who never tried to accurately reproduce reality, would never have painted a landscape where water would not accurately show the reflection of clouds. I suppose if you were a surrealist painter where reality is distorted in dream like disjointedness you might see such a thing. So, even in the world of landscape painting where everything is ‘created’ there are certain limits as to what they thought was acceptable.

My other thought had to do with @Ed_McGuirk’s recent autumn image which he modified to improve it. It has a dead tree at the edge of the river which he thought was distracting. He removed it AND it’s reflection. If you look at that image try to imagine how it might look with the dead tree leading to the water and no reflection. Or worse yet, a reflection with no tree.

I suppose if we worried about true realism in photography we would have to kiss goodbye to black and white photography, wide angle lenses, telephoto lenses, macro lenses… In fact most lenses, cropping, nd filters, polarisers and pretty much all post processing.

I see it as varying degrees of what you deem an acceptable move away from reality and everyone fits somewhere on that spectrum.

As I’ve said, I don’t profess to produce reality (I can see reality every day out of my window) and I’m always up front about it and I think that’s fair enough.

I’m a pretty basic human, I just think ‘oh that’s a pretty picture’ and not much more :joy:

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This is just fantastic, and it would be over the top if you had matching foreground and sky. The more I take shots like these, the more I try to bracket in hope that I can catch what I need. Regardless, it’s a struggle with long exposures since things move around. For this shot, you could fiddle with chicanery if you wanted to have the sky and foreground match, but that would go even farther down the road that Igor describes:

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