Interesting Photo of the Day: Night Landscape Blend of Two Five-shot Panoramas

Humorously captioned “Drove to the middle of nowhere then hiked along the edge of a coyote-infested 200’ cliff in the dark to get this shot,” this composite landscape image of Palouse Falls, Washington by Jesse Summers has received great attention from the online masses, evoking both admiration from some and frustration from others who would argue that the photo is ‘too Photoshopped’:

composite night landscape palouse falls washington

Photo by Jesse L. Summers (via imgur, click to see full size)

Summers explained that this shot is actually “a blend of two five-shot panoramas” taken in the same location at different times of the day. In other words, this is a composite shot, a photograph created by superimposing two or more separate photos into one image. Adobe Photoshop is the obvious go-to for editing projects of this nature, but Summers claims to have edited these raw photos in NIK Viveza to create the final composite:

“A composite was the only way I could realize my vision for this scene,” Summers said, “as I wanted to capture it with available light rather than light painting hours later.”

Beyond the merging of the two photos, Summers insists that the photograph is “not too edited”—despite snarky protests from many in the photographic community. Critics have noted that the landscape is simply too bright to be taken seriously as a nighttime shot, while others have accused Summers of having little experience with masking and of butchering reality.

However, even critics seem to agree that the shot functions well as a breathtaking work of art, and many social media readers have petitioned Summers to release a larger version of the photograph for use as desktop wallpaper.

“I’m glad some people like it as it was a difficult series of images to take,” Summers said. “This location can be pretty dangerous to shoot at night.”

Summers went on to explain that, while the “coyote-infested” phrasing was aimed to poke fun at sensationalized titles, coyotes did “rustle around in the bushes quite a bit” and only someone with a death wish would walk along the edge of that 200-foot cliff after dark without a tactical wide-beam flashlight in hand.

Whether or not the shot is “too Photoshopped,” Summers at least gets an “A” for effort.

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14 responses to “Interesting Photo of the Day: Night Landscape Blend of Two Five-shot Panoramas”

  1. Joshua says:

    Who cares what the nit pickers say. Jesse had a plan and if he likes the result that’s all that matters.

    The Simpsons TV show isn’t real either BTw and somehow most people understand that. No photo is ever truly a accurate representation of a scene the artist* chooses the composition the exposure the perspective etc etc so even before the shutter is pressed the resulting image will be the artists interpretation.

    ** since the dawn of photography the artist has at least two jobs the taking of the photo and then the processing of the photo. Don’t think for a moment ‘in the good old days’ film gave a accurate representation of the photo,many things could be tweaked during development. And there is the whole printing and framing of a print which can influence the viewing pleasure.

  2. I agree with Joshua, and I think it’s an beautiful image.
    As far as tweaking , Photoshopping, or what ever one can do to a photo, if it results in the image one was after, go for it. That’s why photography is considered a fine art.
    As Joshua said, even in the traditional film days , pictures were altered, tweaked, manipulated . One of the niceties of digital is how well one can seamlessly create a composite as Jesse has done.
    Also Photoshop often can save images that might be useless without manipulation. I’d bet many of the critics have gone that route to save an image before. If they haven’t, they’re missing out on a whole different plane of creativity. It’s important for an artist, any artist , to push the boundaries of their creativity. It’s how we learn and grow. This goes for musicians, playwrights, authors, painters, ALL ARTISTS!

  3. Lorri says:

    Who cares whether it is ‘over-processed’ or not, that is an amazingly breathtaking image. Jesse is an artist who uses what is available to him – to us all, in an incredibly creative way. It’s not like he laid claim that this was SOOC. Why is it that we accept that painters for example, ‘tweak’ their work, can guarantee that the Mona Lisa we see today is not the original, can guarantee da Vinci touched up this bit, added a dab of paint here, a bit there, changed this bit slightly, yet it’s not acceptable for photographers!

  4. Daniel Allen says:

    The finished product is incredible–and really, isn’t that all that matters? I guarantee that everyone who’s criticizing the artist for it being “too Photoshopped” (which is ironic considering he apparently didn’t touch Photoshop at all!) are old men/women, stuck in their ways, only a basic understanding of modern post-production techniques, and unable to keep up with the times. Their criticisms are rooted in jealousy and not in an artistic spirit.

    Ya know, it’s really not all that different from an HDR shot–although I realize that even THOSE get some criticism from the so-called “purists.”

    If people would just put aside their bitterness they could appreciate the end result for what it is: a beautiful work of art. Furthering that, we can all learn from his technique and thought process since the artist was kind enough to share how he did it (including the original shots!) I appreciate everyone’s constructive and supportive comments so far. Probably one reason I really love this site!

  5. Nancy Merolle says:

    It is a masterpiece, well worth the time invested. To me, it shows what our eyes really see and want to express – and most of the time we can’t. An artist/photographer darkens, lightens, moves and tweaks to provide this. I am in awe of this photo. Well done!

  6. John says:

    Awesome shot and concept!! Love it. I may have to “borrow” this technique. Keep up the outstanding work!!!

  7. I did not realize you could use two different times of day to make two spreads, that is what boggles my mind. And the day shots do not line up with the night shots, not even close. How can the computer software do that? Is that something unique to Nik Viveza, or is that a common ability of any panoramic program like those in photoshop?

    • kevin gerien says:

      I would like to repeat the question from George Edwards…How did the two images register exactly??? To start and stop on the same pixel twice seems almost impossible, even with photoshop…

    • joshua says:

      In photoshop its layers and selective masking… have two photos of the same scene and properly aligned so with masking this means the sky is from photo 1 and the canyon is from photo 2.

      With my experience of Viveza I’d suggest he used PS to do the masking as Viveza is really good with selective editing… PS is about layers (and more)

  8. mike penney says:

    Photoshop is not too good at matching things up sometimes…. The more subtle the mix the ore you can expect some goofy match ups….

    The way to do it is to use photoshop to align the photos in reposition mode with NO blending. Then use layer masks and do your own blending.

    Or go into PTGUI or Autopano 4. Autopano is my choice at the moment for ease of use and accurate stitching.

    In looking at the various photos I am frustrated that he under exposed the daylight shots. He could have an even better picture with more attention paid to tech details.

    I agree with those above that if you are setting out to create art there is no set of rules you need to stick to as to what technology you use…. stick in the dirt, pigment on canvas, or advanced computer manipulation.

  9. Alexis says:

    It’s a great composite, but the tones in the sky just don’t “match” the tones of the land. which I find very distracting. But I agree, he gets an A for effort. It’s an awesome if flawed work.

  10. Mary says:

    an idea conceived and executed beautifully to create a unique work of art

  11. christine brawn says:

    Daniel Allen! I am one of those ‘OLD, women you so rudely critisize for being stuck in my ways!!
    You are quite wrong. OK! I may not be so clever with the computer but I certainly appreciate the work put in by those better able and hopefully learn from them.
    I belong to a photographic club with an excellent and very patient tutor so look forward to any advice given.
    Old yes. Willing to learn absolutely!!

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