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Milky Tree: review by the Senior Critic Team

Edited by Yvette Depaepe in collaboration with Alfred Forns, Head of the Senior
Critic team.

1x has a unique feature the founders are very proud of: the photo critique. Members can submit pictures to a team of knowledgeable senior critics. Their feedback is useful, interesting and enriching even for the best of us.

”Milky Tree” submitted to critique by Fabio Sozza

This is the first time I have shot the Milky Way. I had no clear idea how to extract more colour / detail information from what the camera captured.

What I like about this shot is that my position allowed me to see that S shape formed by the tree and the Milky Way.
It took over an hour to understand how to light up the tree for it to be nicely visible in the final photo. This is a 30-sec exposure with about 3-sec flashing light on the tree (I used my cell phone torch).
I was in two minds about making this BW or with desaturated colour as you can see now. Eventually, I decided on a colourful spot would light up the image.
What I don't like is the greenish sky, but I ended up leaving it as it is. The other option would be making it all BW.


Senior critic Norman Gabitzsch

You have picked out a great spot to shoot the Milky Way! Like you I really like the "S" shape formed by the MW and tree. I also like the circular horizon silhouette of trees. The light on the tree is well done to complete the flow and the MW is well exposed. It's a wonderful first time shot!

I do wish there was a little more room on the left hand side. Not much but a little more to balance some of the space on the middle right hand side. Of course you can always re-shoot, but you can also increase the canvas size on the left hand side and clone in some sky/stars and fill in the silhouette with black. You used an aperture of f/2.8 which does not give you much depth of field. I think you could have gotten a sharper image using a longer exposure and an aperture more like f/5.6 or even f/8.0. The problem with really longer exposures, however, is that one begins to see star blur from the earth's rotation. As for the green sky, I think I would have tried to rotate the hue (restricted to the sky) towards the blue to try and keep more colour. Still... it's a shot to be proud of as it now stands!

Fabio Sozza
I'm still not that good at cloning, but actually I have to admit I didn't think about any balancing of space around the subject, I thought it could be okay where it is now, as it is on the left third. As you say, I decided to go for f/2.8 to get as much light as possible with a "short" long exposure.

Norman Gabitzsch
I did not mean to put the tree in the middle... just give it a little more room to breathe on the left.


Senior critic Steven T

An excellent Milky Way photograph. The 'S' curve composition sets it apart, I think.
Thank you for sharing the exposure data, and also the 'light-painting' tip. We all learn from it.

You may already know this, but the old 'rule' for shooting stars without blur is 500 divided by focal length - so your choice of 30 seconds was a good one.

There is still some blur from the Earth's movement, but it is only a few pixels and won't show on screen or prints - unless you make very large prints.

Your photograph looks sharp. Focusing on stars is not easy. Is the focus scale on your 14mm Samyang accurate? Many aren't. I got some out-of-focus shots with mine, and often use f/4 and focus-bracketing when shooting the stars - just to be sure.

The 'almost black and white' treatment is unusual. I miss the deep blue sky colours, and I'm guessing the tree would have warm wood tones. Did you try straight black and white?

One detail I think could be improved is the bright area at the bottom of the tree trunk. I think that could be darkened down a little. And maybe a bit more detail in the shadows - maybe - you'd have to try and see what's there.

Fabio Sozza
Actually I can't really tell if the focus scale on my Samyang is accurate, it usually is but it's also to be said that when I only use it on pre-planned shots, so not wide open and almost towards infinity. It's difficult to tell, at that point. This is an exception (f2.8), so I guess the Samyang did a good job. I see what you mean, as far as the spot near the tree. And yes, I tried BW but I just didn't like it. I want to try a second shot of the MW, and this time I'll really try to pull out some deep blue sky :) On this one I actually tried with the colourizing but with no acceptable results. I guess I should've worked more in Lightroom.

Great work guys! Thanks for setting this up Yvette! Grtz, Nick
Fabio... I am happy to see this deserving work published!
Thank you Norman! I really appreciate! :D
Great shot, great critique .... fine work from the team!!
I love it that you like my work! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!