The Winning Image of PHOTONews 25th Anniversary Photo Challenge: The World Through My Lens

©Tanouja Narraidoo

“This image was captured on a late summer evening, outside of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA. It was a partly cloudy evening during the new moon. A storm front from the north had blown through and brought the clouds just after sunset.

Hearts thumping with excitement, I began to setting up the camera equipment to capture the spirits of the stars and wispy clouds as they gracefully filled the sky. I gazed into the heavens and the interesting rock formation. It seemed like my hands were being guided to press the remote trigger and freely capture what was around me. In my my and heart, I had trespassed into the Lands of Mystery, and its secrets were being unveiled, one after the other.

Treading amongst sandstone hoodoos, petrified wood and dinosaur bones, one could almost feel the spirits of the Native Americans of the past. The deadly silence was stirred by occasional sound of drums in the distance. Looking into the night sky to watch the high clouds drift by, gave us a feeling that there was something else out there, outside the boundaries of the human’s eyes, a higher intelligence.

Tanouja NarraidooThe large rock formation became the main subject of my work. To my eye, it was an altar from years gone by. I could almost “feel” the voices from the many, many people from the past chanting, singing in happiness and prayer. The land itself looked like one of Salvador Dali’s palette. It was surrealist and reminded me of “The Persistence of Memory”.

I shot several different exposures that night and this one was the image that caught all of my feelings. The basic image – the deep sky and moving spirit clouds – that was taken on a tripod with my Nikon D810 and Nikon 14-24 mm lens at 18 mm, f/7, approximately 500 seconds exposure. A little bit of post-processing was required in Photoshop to pump up the colors and correct the shadows and highlights.”

Tanouja Narraidoo (aka Tanya Navajo)

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  1. Thank You to the Great Team of Photo News for this recognition.



  2. Ross Doherty says:

    Well deserved absolutely stunning shot

  3. Stunning indeed. Unfortunately, from my professional experience, in a 500 seconds exposure (8+ minutes), the stars in the sky will not be still like you see in the picture. They will be moving and there will be light trails. This is none other than a composite of several different photos put together in Photoshop.

    • Hello,

      I agree. I fixed my camera on a Tracking Mount. Here, you go… Not a lot of people use it, but that’s the secret (sharing with you… )

  4. Darryl Van Gaal says:


    So you’re saying that this is in fact 2 seperate images?
    One for the stars on a tracking mount and one for the foreground so that the scenery isn’t blurred, correct?