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 Post subject: Moon in photos
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:44 am 
I was out a couple of nights ago trying to familiarise myself with my 35mm 1.8 on my Nikon D3100. Taking shots of lit ships at a coal loading wharf which turned out okay but think can be improved with exposure compensation. When I turned around a beautiful full moon was rising behind a more distant wharf. I took a couple of shots then moved as close as I could get to the other wharf and took some more. In every shot the moon looks like a giant starburst of light, which was the effect I wanted on the lights but not the moon. Being new to dslr I don't do things instinctively as yet. My camera was set to f22 13 sec. and I'm pleased with everything else except the moon. Would a larger A help? I want to go out again this evening and try again - any suggestions welcome.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:55 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:47 pm
Posts: 202
Location: Osijek
anyway shooting night shots with the moon in them is very tricky. you see the moon is a very bright object with darkness around and the camera will set itself to expose the darkness correctly, and the moon will be overexposed. in this case the landscape you are shooting will be fine too.

to get the proper exposure for the moon you need to shoot at faster shutter speeds like 1/150 or so, and you really don't need f22, you can get away with f9 that will result in better sharpness.

the problem is how to get the 2 things properly exposed into one photo. well you can try hdr but i don't think it will work on this one, but also you can try blending 2 exposures in some PP software (photoshop, or something) and masking out parts of one layer (making them invisible), so that the layer under becomes visible, there are youtube tutorials on this..

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:23 pm
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Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
Think of the moon as what it is - you're pretty much seeing daytime on the moon - which would be similar to a bright afternoon day here on earth. So when shooting the moon itself, in order to properly expose it you need to use daytime exposures...same aperture and shutter you would use standing on a sunny beach of sand. As you might guess, that makes shooting night scenes with the moon in them very hard in one exposure - because to expose the moon properly, everything else in the shot would be massively underexposed. To expose the surroundings properly, the moon gets blown out badly. Most folks will try blending two exposures or more together, so that one is exposed for the moon and the other(s) for the landscape, then blend those exposures together in an HDR (high dynamic range) stacking software. But if you go to the extreme, and expose the moon with all its detail in perfect daylight exposure, and stick it against a long exposure night landscape, it often won't look very realistic. Ironically, it may be closer to what the eye actually saw, but your brain also tells you that the photo of a perfectly exposed moon against a night scene is photoshopped. For example, this was about what my eye saw:
Image

But I had to use two shots and layer them in order to get it because the moon, even with the landscape being daylight, was still blowing out badly. It looks like I saw, but it also looks fake.

Sometimes, something in between the full blown out moon, and the fake-looking layered in moon, might be the best compromise - something that looks realistic in a photo, showing the moon a bit blown out, but properly exposing the landscape...to avoid letting the moon become TOO blown out, use the same HDR technique to take two or more exposures, but be gentle on the processing, and don't shoot as many stops between the exposures. By shooting two exposures 2-stops apart, I was able to get a good exposure on the foreground night landscape, and get a fairly well exposed sky with a blown out moon - but it's not as badly blown out as it would have been in 1 exposure - you can still get the idea that it's a moon, and it's not dominating the whole sky:
Image

The other trick is to shoot right around sunset - even the hour or so before, with an early moon rise. It's about the perfect time to get a single exposure in which you can expose both the moon and the surrounding landscape just about perfectly together. By UNDERexposing a touch, you can get the moon exposure just right, while the landscape will be slightly darker than the eye saw, it can look quite natural - you essentially end up making a brighter daylight scene look like a natural dusk sky. I snapped this quick shot handheld - it's also a big crop - when I noticed this ship sailing out to sea under the rising full moon:
Image

Hope that gives some ideas!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:57 pm 
Thanks guys that's really helpful. It was one of those wow isn't that stunning I have to get a shot of it moments and I was so disappointed when I saw the results on the computer. Will definitely try the two exposures and see how I go. Thanks for all the info and samples.


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