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Moonlight Photography

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Moonlight Photography

Postby mountaineer » Thu Dec 01, 2005 8:14 pm

Anybody try landscape photography by moonlight? Here is my first attempt from about a year ago...Laurel Mtn.
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Postby BSquared » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:33 am

Beautiful picture, Mountaineer! Question from a rank amateur: I've taken several pictures with the moon in the background using a small point-and-shoot digital camera, and the moon almost always looks like it's out of focus. Obviously it's not a "focus" problem per se since the objects in the foreground (usually mountains) are at "infinity" along with the moon. Is it just hopelessly overexposed because the camera's adjusting itself for the average lighting in the scene? Or maybe the exposure is long enough that moon actually "moves?" Any idea how I can prevent this?
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Postby copeg » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:45 am

Great shots Mountaineer! I've tried some moonlight photos in the past, they never came out great (I would post some, but there buried in a pile of slides and I have no way of scanning them). Now that I've switched to a small handheld digital its even worse. I think the best I can do for now is a double exposure with the full moon in one and relatively lighted scene in the other.
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Postby mountaineer » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:27 am

Thanks for the nice words...always appreciated!

Bsquared, the reason the the moon itself is blurred is because of the slow shutter speed required and the fact that the moon is moving in the sky. Also, a tripod is a must. The only way around that is to use faster film and open up the aperture all the way to be able to use a faster shutter speed.

Taking pictures utilizing the moonlight on the landscape as opposed to having the moon itself in the photo is different. For these shots, I had the lens open for about a minute, set at 5.6 and the film was 100 speed. You can see the streaks in the clouds and stars, which would have been the moon if it had been in the actual picture.

Click http://abetterphotoguide.bizhosting.com/day_night_exposure_calculator.html for an awesome slide-rule guide for specialized exposures such as moonlight photography. Most-used piece of euipment in my bag.
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Postby Hikin Mike » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:51 am

Great shots Mountanineer!

My wife and I drove up to Yosemite one evening for a full moon, I think it was around March. Here's a couple shots...

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Postby doug395 » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:19 pm

Good stuff, I love being out on the full moon. I’ll be in the Sierra this full moon, I’m going to try some night photography at the Eureka Dunes. Also this month the moon will be lined up to rise over ship rock ay Mono Lake, I’ll be there to try to catch something like this again.

http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=3576954
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Postby SSSdave » Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:58 pm

Doug did use accidently mis-profile that Mono image? Looks way too unnaturally saturated. I gave it -45 Saturation in Photoshop to bring it down to what may be reality on the best dusks. ...David

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**When posting photos that are not your own, we need to all make sure to gain permission from the owner first to make sure they are ok with it. Cheers ~ ERIC
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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:16 pm

Cool night shots, Mountaineer® and Hikin Mike®!

Doug, I'm eager to go to the Eureka Dunes too, and also the Racetrack, I haven't been to either location yet. Your Mono Lake moon shot is superb!

Hey Dave Senac, I always enjoy going through your photos, they are beautiful! Of course I really love Velvia 50 during magic lighting and the extra color and contrast it provides, but I do have a question on your photos which just may be your "preference" or "philosophy", which is cool. You take lots of overnight backpacking trips lugging your gear around to gorgeous places, and your compositions and subject matters are wonderful, but out of your dozens of photographs on your website I don't see any (or very few) "magic lighting" shots... sunrise, sunset, low light, etc. Do you prefer mid-day photos over magic lighting hours? I'm just curious. I virtually spend my early mornings and evenings in the wilderness shooting frantically when the color saturation levels are sweet and then hike during the mid-day sun, taking "documentation" shots of my hike during the day. I do find time to take a cast or three with a fly between clicks, though! :cool: I actually plan my days around where I'll be for mornings and evenings, but it seems the opposite for you, as most of your images appear during regular daylight hours. There's obvisouly no right or wrong or better or worse, just tastes and preferences, but being a "photographer" you are obviously purposely seeking mid-day lighting? Again, they're beautiful images, just not traditional lighting. Maybe traditions need to be shaken up now and then. Personally I find color saturation has more to do with natural lighting than the film used. Velvia 50 can obviously enhance color, but the vivid colors must be there in the first place to bring the saturation out more fully, which is where sweet lighting comes into play. Congrats on a great portfolio and I hope you sell meeeellions of them! :)
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Postby SSSdave » Mon Dec 05, 2005 9:59 pm

There are still numbers of photographers as Alain Briot that prefer their landscape work to look natural. And in doing so one does not have to give up saturation. It just is harder to find in the landscape and one needs to develop an awareness for good light.

I shot 35mm with Kodachrome many years and have a few tens of thousands of slides. And have lots of images of all types including dawn, sunrise, sunset, and dusk. I see my 35mm for future stock purpose and not fine art though I've put up some token images mainly for show. With larger formats I've shot some early and late shots but have not considered any to be that outstanding except my 4x5 shot of Balanced Rock this year that is on my index. Any shots that get on my index have to be exceptional. One weakness I tend to feel strongly about is shadows. Rarely do shadows improve a large print. A lot of saturated film users seems to be oblivious to the lack of aesthetic due to shadows in their images. And it is certainly a controversial issue in the art world and one that has much to do with personal taste. Finding a situation for early/late landscapes and minimizing shadows is inherantly problematic.

One issue with larger format is that a lot of the early/late shots that one shoots with smaller formats are for my purposes not worth shooting with large format. Large format for many is about making large prints with fine detail. Early/late shots may have great colors but the dim landscapes usually don't hold much detail. Sure some LF photographers may make large prints of such shots but one might as well have just used a smaller format and interpolated up. On the web or on a little magazine page such images may look impressive but that doesn't often scale onto a large 30x40 inch Lightjet print. Especially when placed next to an image made with the sun higher in the sky that brings out maximum detail. So the challenge for me is to get such a late/early shot that also has lots of fine image detail. When I processed the Balanced Rock shot, I could have printed at 30x40 because it is indeed tack sharp like most of my other 4x5 work, but instead chose 24x32 because the shot was more about the color than the details. In any case I do expect to sooner or later get a highly detailed early/late shot because I've seen what I need over the years and just need to have better luck.

Mid summer daylight time at our California latitudes, my favorite hours to shoot near front lit landscapes are 7:45am to 8:45am and 5:45pm to 6:45pm. The blue sky in particular is most intensely beautiful blue then. However landscape and light is incredibly complex and varied. Thus there are many situations for shooting later towards mid day especially with darker rock and transluscent targets like wildflowers, leaves, and down into water or off axis. ...David
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Postby Buck Forester » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:14 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Dave! I've never shot large format (not even medium format... yet) although my next camera I want is a Pentax 67II medium format, and then a Fuji GX617 medium format panorama camera. Then I need to upgrade from my Canon 20D digital to a full-frame sensor camera. Another large format "Sierra" guy I really like is Vern Clevenger, but I think he shoots primarily Velvia. Same with Jim Stinson and Claude Fiddler. Great stuff!
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Postby SSSdave » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:28 pm

Those guys were all good friends of Rowell of course. If you want a 67 AEII w 45mm 55-100mm 150mm and a lot of accessories, I would sell below the used market prices. The big 55-100 zoom lens was my main lens but has developed the common lens problem of a loose element so the focus has to be checked carefully. Pentax repair in Colorado will take it apart and make it as good as new with colimation etc. Don't know how much they quoted me but it was enough that I've been using it as for now as is since it was already collecting dust. But honestly I would not recommend that any competant small format landscape photographer go to MF unless they are trying to go cheap for a few years because they can't afford the latest max pixel digital SLR's. I say that since you mention the GX617 as that would easily be as expensive as a big dSLR. Those digital cameras at 15mp are already near to the 6x7 quality. Enough to print up to 22x28 inches and not look to shabby next to LF detail. Otherwise the jump to LF for a landscape photographer is problematic and only for those with an intention to make large prints. Everything one does with LF from equipment to print is very expensive so one cannot cope in the poor mode. But the results can clearly blow away anything else. ...David
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Postby Buck Forester » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:30 pm

Yes, I agree "detail" wise that high-end digital approaches medium format quality (and will only getter better with time while film remains technically static), but beyond just pixels and grain and detail and enlargement, there is the "feel" factor. I still prefer the look and feel of properly exposed Velvia film over anything digital. That may change with time, and it might change as my Photoshop skills get better (I suck at Photoshop), but as for now I still prefer film for wilderness landscapes, in most situations, not all. I prefer my digital for people shots and wildlife closeups.
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