Making of a composite image

It’s important that all photographers, as visual storytellers with cameras, tell the truth. Telling the truth is something that has become lost as photographers try to one up each other on social media every day. My favorite part of landscape photography is chasing the light. To have that great light line up with in a composition is immensely satisfying.  This does take a lot of planning and effort, but that is part of the fun.  Just replacing skies in my landscape photos, would take away from the enjoyment I get from being in the moment. 

I want people to know and believe my images are real. I do believe that those who do manipulate their images are creating art their way, but I really enjoy the extra effort of trying to get it for real, and I want people to know and trust that I put in that extra effort. Sometimes things just do not work out as is the case with "Heaven and Earth". It is important, however, to state the image is a composite, never take a persons trust for granted.

"Heaven and Earth" is a composite of Castle Rock from Moab and a night sky from Utah County, Utah. Castle Rock is a 400-foot Wingate Sandstone tower standing on a 1,000 foot Moenkopi-Chinle cone In Castle Valley, Utah about 20 miles east of Moab.



The night my friends and I set up to take this shot it was cloudy and overcast. The storm seemed to be moving through the area fairly fast and we hoped that the skies would clear. We were able to light the foreground and set up for the shot. Yet,, as the night progressed the wind and weather became more severe. 



This image was taken during a lightning strike. As you can see the storm became more intense. The wind built to a point that cameras and tripods were blowing over. So we had to give up on the shot.


Drawn to the shot I really want to complete it. Do I go back and set up for it again? Then one night a thunderstorm was moving through the area. The storm was just north from where I live. I grabbed my gear and had thoughts of getting a lightning shot.


So, this incredible thunderstorm went through Utah on this night and I was fortunate enough to be on the southern edge. The blue light is from the lightning and is so blue because of the white balance settings used on night photography. I never got a lightning strike on this night, but I was able to capture the tail of the milky way and Andromeda in the position for the Castle Rock shot. 


To add to it was the thunder storm, an amazing coincidence. I felt this sky would just fit with the thunderstorm image from Castle Rock. Sometimes it is just better to be lucky than good.





I usually do not do composite images. For me this still had the aspects of chasing the light, planning for the shot and I loved the landscape composition of this image.

The conditions of the  sky image just put the image together for me. I did make sure that composition would place the stars in the same position of the sky for the original shot

My images are what you would see if you went to that point for the image.