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Nishchint Raina's picture

The Watchman, Zion National Park, Utah, United States

October 14, 2018

I stood on the bridge near The Watchman. Normally this place is full of photographers - all gathered to capture the iconic spot. This day was different though - storms were looming large. There was sunset. There were rainbows. My plan was to capture these and head to my campsite 3 hours away. And then it started to thunderstorm and rain. And then there was lightning. I couldn't leave - I had to capture it! I had never captured lightning before. I stayed until 9:30 in the night - teaching myself while the show unfolded. It was exciting and scary but I finally got it!

26mm · f/8.0 · 6s · ISO 40
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16 Comments

Would love to see the raw file coz it looks too edited. Saturation is through the roof, and the lightning looks photoshopped (skyswap too ?).

Based on the light on the watchman itself, I assumed that the sky and earth were composited together from different exposures, possibly even different times of day.

Then again, the photographer never stated that this was a single exposure, so I never assume anything when that detail is omitted. So, maybe not /a/ photograph, singular, but it's still a stunning image/artwork.

The issue I have with this photographer is that he hypes up his photographs with a false story, like when he talks about hiking to exhaustion in a canyon and finding this "vista" while he's just in Antelope Canyon, one of the most touristy spots in America... I suspect it's the same here, he never witnessed the storm, he's just lying. Assume you're compositing images, if you start lying you lose all respect from other photographers, or the public in general. I know photographers who really put in the work, hike to remote places, and come back with beautiful natural shots. Compositing stuff in is just an insult to the real photographers out there in my opinion. And I disagree it's a stunning image. The saturation is way out, the lighting on the mountain looks fake as can be, so does the lightning...

Not knowing anything about the artist or looking at any other pictures, I was basing my assessment on my experience at dissecting images and determining how a composite was made, which I wind up doing often for the "Milky Way Chasers" group.

With that said, it looks like a "real" scene, even if the different elements are composited from different times of day, from sunset until blue hour or beyond.. Then again, I've seen lightning at sunset too, and it does look like that, so maybe it's just a traditional HDR bracket with slightly unnatural tones on The Watchman.

Either way, this is why it's very important to be more honest about what goes into your imagery in general, maybe not each individual photo but just as an overall artists' statement. Otherwise, your images will always be discussed and dissected when something looks "off". Of course, if you're OK with that then hey, who cares? But usually, it seems like artists get defensive when asked about an edit that they're being intentionally vague about, which is an indicator that they need to either gain more confidence and pride in what they do, ...or reconsider what they're doing.

Again, not saying this directly to this artist in particular, just in general when viewing images that show a few telltale signs of being composited.

Nishchint Raina's picture

It's a composite of 4 images which I captured over a couple of hours. This is not a perfect job as it was my first try capturing and processing it. People are inevitably gonna dissect this image - I understand that and it is fine.

Nishchint Raina , I have the utmost respect for artists who mention what viewers should know about an image when it could be assumed to be a single click of the shutter. Digital photographic art is an "anything goes" medium, as far as art goes. It is only when an artist tries to call their work "a" photograph, (emphasis on the singular) that I begin to lose appreciation. So, no foul here...

Deleted Account's picture

Very nice and I commend your dedication! :-)

Really, really over edited

Duane Klipping's picture

Looks crooked to me. Other than that I like the image as art. Too many here do not understand or accept the fact it is you vision and not theirs. Art is subjective too many critical comments based on personal preferances.

I don't mind art, but he's claiming he actually witnessed this exact shot which is clearly not the case. Own to your composites, don't lie about it.

heikoknoll's picture

Well, I have been in thunderstorms like this and indeed the light can be very eery indeed and almost unreal. So the saturation could actually work if just lowered a bit. What I really don´t understand is why the horizon is tilted -- are you trying to convey a sense of adventure and danger? I think especially the bush on the right has too much light (i.e. too much post-correction), just like the tree to the right. Where should that light be coming from? The main light source is obviously the sun behind the clouds and in that moment the lightning - so even if it is a composite of several images you could have made it more realistic by following the rules of how light falls where. I actually don´t understand the community either for not noticing this very fundamental editing error and just throwing around with 4 and more stars. Thanks for sharing the image though!

The community is biased towards oversaturated, overprocessed, composite images. They can't tell if it's fake. It's an image Lee and Eliah would give 2 stars too, they'd say it's way overdone. I've been thinking about what would happen if I posted on my portfolio as a joke very unprocessed images by famous photographers who don't use LR or PS very much, or even shoot on film. People like Thomas Heaton, Glenn Randall, Ben Horne, Tim Fitzharris... They'd get a really low rating compared to the quality of the composition I bet, just because it's not overdone.

heikoknoll's picture

I agree. Now I have some images wich are over-processed (or edited too quickly) and have received a good rating, whereas other pictures with which I really took my time are regarded as a snapshot. But then ahain its an open community and not a board of judges....

Yes people reward images that pop with colors over good balanced compositions. It's why someone like Thomas Heaton would get destroyed here... Also, the "snapshot" rating can be spiteful photographers. I've had such ratings minutes after giving critiques like this one here... It'd be nice to only be allowed to give 2s and 1s if you add a reply justifying your decision. Everyone would win.

heikoknoll's picture

. . I took a look at Thomas Heaton´s website: I totally understand what you mean.

Andrew Camel's picture

So surreal!