This may be a silly question, but is it possible to do full moon landscapes with the moon so bright when it's full? Haven't quite figured it out yet if it IS possible. I've got a D300, a 28-80mm, 70-210mm, and borrowing a 70-300mm lens. Any tips or input?
#1. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 0
Yes, you can, but timing is critical and a lot depends on the exact time of the full moon, which determines the exact time of the full moon rise on any given month. Some months work out better than others.
You can not shoot in full darkness or deep dusk unless you do some sort of HDR processing with multiple images.
On the night of the full moon the moon rises as the sun sets, or +/- 20 minutes or so in any given month.
When the full moon first rises the light is very well balanced with the moon. As the moon rises the sky and your terrestrial scene darkens.
The moon also gets about 2 stops or more brighter the first 3-10° of altitude. But that depends on atmospheric conditions and in the dry Southwest you probably get less atmospheric extinction than most other places.
The full moon, high in the sky, is about 1 stop under sunny 16, sometimes called "luney 11". When first rising above the horizon the moon is perhaps 3 stops under sunny 16. That is probably about the overall ambient exposure sometime around sunset or just after.
And remember you are shooting opposite the setting sun. The sky is not as bright as it is doing the traditional sunset or dusk shot into the west.
You then quickly run into dynamic range problems. You can buy a few stops, maybe up to 4 or so?, using grad filters.
Here is an example:
The image was shot within one minute of sunset. The moon rose 12 minutes prior and is at 2°. The moment of full moon was 7 hours prior, causing the moon to rise shortly before sunset.
Nikon D2h 70-200 f/2.8 VR @180mm f/5.6 1/160s ISO 400 Aperture Priority - Exp Comp -1.0 stops (I wanted it on the dark side and did not want to burn the red channel in the moon or the reflection on the water)
These are unique images because the exact circumstances can rarely be repeated. Each full moon is different; I thought this one worked out well.
Not sure if this is what you have in mind, but I think this is what you have to do. You balance the ambient to the moon, and that generally happens within moments of sunset.
With a thick humid air, or thin clouds, sometimes the time can be extended because the moon is unusually extinguished near the horizon.
The day before full moon you can generally shoot a nice full moon within an hour or so before sunset. Those can be nice too, especially when the timing of the full moon is such that it rises only about 30-40 minutes before sun set.
#2. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 0
I'm adding this image to illustrate that the moon brightness gets out of hand very quickly.
This was shot 5 1/2 minutes later. Neither image has any exposure adjustments or localized brightness/contrast type of work.
This image is on the ragged edge of blowing the red channel in the moon. Personally I don't like that color/contrast (the look) of the moon; I prefer a darker look, like my first image, that better images the details.
Since this is not blown I can fix this although my PP skills may not be up to turning it into something I like. But if I had shot it a few minutes later it would have been hopeless.
It's a very tight window and it depends on getting a low horizon. If you are trying to get a moon rising over the mountains, for example, that is a more difficult problem because the moon will likely be luny 11 before it rises over the mountain.
And you would have to do that the day before the full moon so that the moon rises over the mountain just about at sunset. I would think that would be a complex set of timings to put together.
#4. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 2 Wed 22-May-13 03:06 AM by scara36
Excellent tips! and excellent explanation. Yes, my thought/hope was to get it rising over our highest mtn (I live in Northern Arizona at 7000ft, and out tallest mtn is nearly 13000ft). From what I'm finding on PhotoEphemeris, yes the moon will have to be over 10degrees (actually closer to 14) before it is high enough to be seen above the mtn, and I've checked many different vantage points. As you've explained, tho, the best shots would be closer to the horizon. I am going out tomorrow to capture it nearly full rising over the mtn, and it's at a time of day that I'm sure it will come out well. With a completely full moon, tho, I too had noticed that the higher it got, the darker the foreground, etc got, making landscapes near impossible without making the moon just a ball of light, which I absolutely didn't want.
Ok, well for now, I will work with this information and perhaps not this month's full moon, but the next I will try to find a vantage point that will allow me to see the horizon...or at least something less than 13000ft!
#5. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 4 Wed 22-May-13 03:36 AM by nrothschild
On Thursday evening, May 23, at Flagstaff the moon will be at 13° 54' at the moment of true sundown. What more could you ask for
Remember what I said about the day before . And don't forget your grad filters . I think you might need a grad to do that, or you might have to do a two frame HDR.
I've blown a few of these shots because I didn't have my filters in hand at the critical moment. Now I would probably just do an HDR.
Because of all those nice mountains you have, it would actually help you to have some sort of altitude/angle gauge.
Something like this is very inexpensive and readily available. You would use that with your camera set up. If you have a lens hood, take it off. You frame the scene, then place it flat against the front of the lens.
Edit: not touching the glass, but against the rim of the lens (the filter ring)
Edit 2: for angle measurement, use the longest lens you have, pointed exactly where you expect the moon to peep over the mountain
I use something very similar to help align my equatorial mounts. That Home Depot gauge is actually better than what I use because it can be used in two different axis. (I think?)
You should also consider doing the conjunction challenge. I was thinking about you, after that great new moon shot. You may be one of the few Nikonians in the world that has at least fairly reliable clean horizons.
#6. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 5
Will look into the altitude/angle gauge. I was actually just checking on PhotoEphemeris a completely different area to try to get the moon where I want it on Thursday, since you suggested the day before a full moon to shoot it easier. It's not so much that I can't find a place closer to the horizon (I can, if I drive far enough. High desert you can see forever and it's within an hour 1/2 drive). I just have always wanted a photo of it coming over Mt Humphreys; it's the tallest mtn in the state, and I just have this fascination with it. It's so photogenic and majestic. Now that I'm exploring the astro side of photography (which also has always been a fascination; blame that on a junior high crush! LOL), I thought can it be done? Full moon over Humphreys? Combination of both fascinations. So, that said, it was also about finding the moon rising in the right place. So many variables here! Think I found a place. I post anything if it works.
About that challenge, I remember you mentioned it in another thread. Remind me: what was it and what were the best times for it? If it's this weekend, not so sure I can do it. At the base of Mt Humphreys is a place called Hart Prairie and there's a nature preserve there that I'm volunteering at all weekend. (If you're familiar with the Nature Conservancy, it's one of their preserves). If it's not this weekend, I might give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised at the new moon shot. Great learning experience...and lesson in patience.
#8. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 6
I think you should shoot the full moon over that mountain. It's a great idea! It is a complex setup, and remember that the moon rises in a different place each successive day. What works in a trial run may be a problem the day or two. Similarly two successive full moons will rise in somewhat different places.
For that you need a compass, your magnetic declination (from the NGS web site) and the azimuth at moon rise from Photographer's Ephemeris.
It may take some effort, and many tries, but I suspect the results will be worth it!
Mercury, Venus and Jupiter are bunching together to form a "Conjunction". It is actually happening right now.
May 26 is the tightest arrangement of the conjunction but it is also very good several days before and after. You may be able to sandwich it on either side of your weekend.
June 10 has a very challenging new moon, plus two of the planets.
June 11 has a still fairly challenging new moon, plus two planets in the scene.
I think that after May 30 it will become very tough to get all 3 planets because Jupiter is fairly rapidly sinking lower each day. But you might find a window for that.
Any time between now and mid-June or so is a great time to shoot those planets. You need a very low horizon around where the sun sets, but you seem to have found one already for that new moon shot. But the closer you can get to the true horizon (and I mean within a degree if possible), the better off you are. And with your dry air and altitude you could get some amazing dusk shots at the horizon.
If you like the idea of this, remember that you can shoot that full moon just about any month of the year, but this planetary arrangement, with 3 planets in the dawn or dusk sky, is very rare. It will be years before you can do it again. I've looked several years ahead and see nothing similar.
#3. "RE: Full moon landscapes?" In response to Reply # 0
Sarah - I don't have any readily available samples of my efforts, but I want to heartily endorse Neil's detailed and correct explanation. His discussion of timing is exquisite.
Like a great many questions like this, the answer is rooted in thoroughly understanding what is happening. For example, the "Loonie 11" rule is based on the fact that the sun lights the full moon much as it does the earth at noon. The moon however, has a reflectivity -- or albedo, as astronomers say -- that is somewhat less than that of the earth: it's a little darker overall.