Week12 (Part1) – Shooting the Moon

This week has been such a busy one photography-wise that it’s coming to you in two parts.

19-25 March ’11

Over the last week or so there’d been a buzz on the DPS forums about the upcoming ‘supermoon’.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:-

A perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system or “supermoon” is a full or new moon that coincides with a close approach by the Moon to the Earth.

The moon would be the closest it’s been to the earth in 18 years.  We photographers rubbed our hands together in glee – photo ops! The full moon is always a special challenge to photograph, and this one promised to be a real treat.

Saturday 19th March

It happened that Bro, also a keen photographer, was going to be in town for the weekend.  So I invited him out on a photo shoot, a sunset trip up to the windfarm for a view of the moon rise in the East.  We did our research – moon rise was scheduled for 6.43pm on Saturday night.   I watched the sky anxiously all day, hoping that the clouds would all blow away. It wasn’t ’til late afternoon that I pressed the ‘go’ button.  The sky cleared (as it almost always does on the night of a full moon), with just a few clouds staying around to add interest and colour to the sunset.

We packed up camera gear and various family members and headed for the hills.  My plan had been to set ourselves up in the car park at the top of the wind farm – I was sure the sign on the gate said ‘Open dawn to dusk’.  Hmmm, nope.  It closed at 5.30pm.  Buggar.  Best laid plans, and all that.  Never mind, turns out we found a better spot just a little further along the road in the lee of the hill.  It’s always very windy up on the tops (that’s why they put the turbines up there!), so our possy just under the hill was perfect.  Out of the biting wind, but still with an awesome view out to the East and right amongst all those whirling blades.  And cows.

While we waited for the moon to show its face, Bro and I pottered about getting various shots of the landscape, and each other.  I really hope Greg deletes the photos he took of me – all scowly and squinty in the low, sunset light.  I’m really much more comfortable behind the camera, not in front thanks.


A Photographer and his Chimp

Exif (Both shots)
F-stop   f/5.3
Exp time  1/160sec
ISO speed  ISO-200
Focal length 70mm

To create this diptych I twiddled with the levels, warmed the RH picture to get the light and colour to match.  Then I cropped slightly to have the subject centred and equal.  Next I used Picasa to create the collage, then added the black margin.  I particularly like the edge lights created by the backlighting from the setting sun.

Finally the moon made its appearance, rising above the cloud bank that had gathered on the eastern horizon. Because the sun was still up, the moon appeared very pale, her craters undefined.

Pale face - Moon rise over the Wairarapa

F-stop   f/20
Exp time  1/125sec
ISO speed  ISO-200
Focal length 125mm

SOOC this shot was somewhat over exposed, a tweak with the levels sliders brought the details back.  This process made the moon almost disappear in to the pale sky, so a little more Photoshop magic brought it back to brightness.

Not really what I’d envisaged when I began planning this expedition.

Still we had a pleasant hour or so out there in the fresh air.

With the  windmills.

Private Property - No Public Access

F-stop   f/22
Exp time  1/500sec
ISO speed  ISO-200
Focal length 18mm


And the cows.

Windmills and Cows

F-stop   f/11
Exp time  1/250sec
ISO speed  ISO-200
Focal length 125mm



Later in the evening, when the sun had gone down  and the moon shone super-bright in the sky I had another go.  This time I borrowed Bro’s 300mm lens for a close up view.

Super Moon - almost. 19 March 2011


F-stop   f/20
Exp time  1/125sec
ISO speed  ISO-200
Focal length 300mm

This shot I simply cropped closer, sharpened a fraction and increased the contrast slightly.

Sunday 20th March

The actual ‘full moon’ day.   I hadn’t really planned a moon shot for today.  In fact, we’d been talking about it earlier.  Sitting on the deck, drink in hand,  enjoying the last of what had been a glorious day, we were discussing yesterday’s exploits.  Mention was made of the full moon shot, but I’d figured it was already too late.  How wrong was I?

Walking through the kitchen at  7.45pm, I happened to glance out the window.  I think I actually swore.  There she was, the full moon in all her golden glory just peaking over the hill top.  I ran – literally ran –  to grab my camera, flicked off the kitchen lights and shot hand held.  No time for a tripod, or faffing with settings.  And as I only had my 18-125mm lens on, I couldn’t get nearly as close as the previous night’s effort.  Still, I’m pleased with this picture.

Super Moon Rise. 20 March 2011


F-stop   f/5.6
Exp time  1/160sec
ISO speed  ISO-320
Focal length 125mm

The black dot on the moon’s face is the silhouette of a tree on the horizon.

Stay tuned for Week12(Part2)….







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