“Wait, that’s not a moon. It’s a space station!”
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Mentioned in this post, an image of the lunar eclipse in its relation to other celestial bodies. Now that I’ve had some time to look over the images, I think that this is my favorite of the evening. But it took some work.
One interesting thing: the street lights are all effectively done with tungsten lighting – they give everything a solid color cast. But the moon & the stars – they’re reflecting what is effectively normal sunlight. Completely different cast.
If you color balance for daylight (I usually have it at 5600K), then the street lights are orange, but the moon is proper. Balance for tungsten and the moon is drab.
The solution: smart objects in Photoshop. One for the main area, one for the sky. Each one with a different color balance. The original was created in RAW, so this didn’t damage the image. Minor masking & everything displays as it should.
Does Orion look too bright? It should, and it’s deliberate. Several curve layers spiking the intensity there, just to bring ‘em out. It’s almost overpowering on a large view, but when you look at a smaller view the stars disappear. This preserves those stars in thumbnails.
Other post-processing: two-pass sharpening on the trees, and a mild blur/ghosting to the tree/snow areas. That was to bring out the calm/softness of the snow, while retaining sharp edges.
Oh, and this is cropped. I was shivering so much when setting this up on the tripod that it came out crooked.
All shots came out slightly blurry – I’ve done better hand-held shots of the moon. Overall not impressed, and overall I can see that I need to practice this.
One reason for the blur: some shots had longer exposures. In two minutes the moon will travel approximately its full width across the sky.
I didn’t know this until the day after…
On our recent trip, I had an opportunity to shoot the moon. What you see below is a 400mm lens on a tripod, manually focused on the moon. the image itself is cropped, but this is 100% of a 10 mpx file.
Here’s the thing about taking pictures of the moon: if you’re going to do it, you really want to wait until the moon is low on the horizon. The lower it is, the larger it appears (an atmospheric effect). In Hawaii, on the Big Island, I’ve seen it much larger and brighter. But this was pretty good, and you can see quite a few details.
Exposure is the other tricky part. It might take a few tries, and you’ll need to review carefully. Basically, though: expose for a bright day. A starting point, for example, might be f/16, ISO 50, and 1/60th (the “sunny 16″ rule). For this, I started at 1/100, f/16, ISO 100. The final exposure, though? 1/40th, f/5.6, ISO 200. All that to reduce the shake on the camera.
Sometimes you have to compromise.
Last night, at my folks’ place: saw the moon, almost directly over their chimney. The sky really was that blue – it’s late (8pm), the sun is still up but off to the (far) right, and the colors are rich. This type of picture is really better served with an SLR, long telephoto lens, and extremely slow shutter speeds. Unfortunately, I had none of that with me – only the sd500. So I made do.