Shooting the Moon

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    Lydia Bennett

    Hey all! The other night was a full moon; I don’t know if any of you got out and saw it or photographed it, but I had seen there was supposed to be one the evening of April 7th, so I thought I’d make plans to photograph it. Well, those plans fell through in the end (and it ended up being a cloudy evening), but thankfully, my dad had called my attention to the moon the night before that! I wasn’t in an ideal location as far as the landscape goes, but did what I could with what I had.

    So, bring on the comments! Initial impressions? Favorite? Least favorite? Likes or dislikes? Thoughts on composition or editing? You can give little, incidental comments, or delve in and get nit-picky as much as you’d like! Have at it.

    And for anyone who would like a little background…

    The photos here were actually taken in 3 different locations!

    The first two (0149 & 0152) were from the parking lot down at a nearby golf driving range. I was trying to keep houses, nets, telephone poles and other unsightly aspects out of the photo, but the moon was only rising further in the sky, away from any landscape elements, so I tried to get creative and use a nearby pine tree for foreground elements to bring attention to the moon (I’m not sure it worked like I was hoping). The time pressure was real!

    The next two (0156 & 0162) were from my church’s parking lot. Again, buildings, street, and houses were down below, so I composed up a shot to exclude those and looked for a shape in the trees to lead the eye to my main subject.

    Then, later at home, I went out into the driveway and tried framing something up with the trees across the street. I experimented with various exposure settings too, but that time of day is just a little tricky to find a good exposure for something like this. 🙂

    Manual focus, specs in filenames; edited in LR; all shots handheld except for the late-night one.
    Camera: Nikon D3100 | Lens: 55-200mm f4.0-5.6

    James Staddon

    So great…..taken in parking lots. 🙂 Love it!

    0162 is hands down my absolute favorite! The orange hillside at the bottom of the frame adds a splash of color that is really needed. If it were black or otherwise not sun-lit, the whole picture would be drawing 100% of the attention to the moon which, though it is a good subject, is a common enough object that it doesn’t necessarily make a photo interesting by itself. For some reason, that hillside still in golden light tells a different story to me than just a picture of a moon. I feel like it’s a picture of something happening, an action, rather than an object. Like, not just “the moon”, but “the moon is setting”, or “the day is closing”, or “the night is coming on”. Of course, the intentional placement of the moon “floating” inside the “bowl” shape created by the overlapping trees makes it feel artistic rather than haphazard. If I was going to nit-pick, I’d say I wish the moon was as far away from the trees on it’s left as they are from the trees on it’s right. But I just love how all the branches are pointing in toward the moon.

    The first shot to me the sky is just too blank. Of course, that could be a benefit for textual design purposes. I would definitely remove the top of that wooden pole at the bottom too. I always find myself wondering what it is. 🙂

    I like the second one better, the foreground elements being obviously in focus. Perfectly composed and processed, in my opinion.

    The third shot, the moon doesn’t seem to be as crisp as the second shot. Well framed, but not as nice as the one I talked about before.

    That last shot is really interesting. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen that effect so well played out. The dynamic range is so incredibly dramatic, that if exposing for the moon, the branches would only be visible in the places where they overlapped the moon. In this situation, however, the silhouette of the branches can be seen over a much greater portion of the image, making them a better compositional element. I kinda like this shot. Perhaps I would try experimenting with different white balances to see if a cooler rendition looked more artistic.

    Good work with the moon. I was going to go shoot it but it was really cloudy. 🙂

    Lydia Bennett

    Thanks for the comments, @jamesstaddon! Hadn’t thought about having an even distance between the moon and trees on both sides in 0162. Good point!

    I played around a little bit with cooling down that last photo; not sure if I overdid it a bit. 🙂 There’s this small patch that I guess is lens flare which is now apparent (I had just de-saturated it previously), so I’ll have to go in and learn how to edit that out if I want to use this photo for anything.

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