Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from those tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage about.
In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a cooperative moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher as I work this at f64). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 1 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera..
This was handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.
I find the moon to be a big show off when ever it can be. Here it is balancing on a rock like a precocious 10 year old. It’s probably trying to impress the sun which is still up over my shoulder lighting up the scene I often find it resting on the horizon or caught by some rouge “Ent” Tree. Way out in the remote back country many magical and mystical things occur when I pursue light. I’m just the stenographer here with the limitations of the technology I deal with daily.
There are only a few days a month where the relatively full moon is close to the still sunlit horizon. I get perhaps 3 or 4 sunrise/sunsets a month with the moon involved. Some months I don’t get the opportunity due to cloud cover . I’m usually game to be in the backcountry for this kind of activity. Deep snow sort of slows me down but NOW I have a taller truck with 35 inch studded snow tires to help a bit. You might notice the sideways snow drifts on that 20 story high hill telling a story of high wind here in the borderlands of WY/MT.
On the moon you can clearly see the smaller top crater at 12 oclock. (It’s actually a small “Mare”). It is always at 12 oclock on a rising moon but at 3 oclock as the moon sets here at 45 degrees north latitude. That little Crater is Mare “Crisium”. (Sea of Crisis from the latin).
Have you noticed the moon’s face appears to rotate clockwise as the night progresses? This is an illusion as you are the one that is rotating, not the moon🤔. Your looking at the moon rising looking east. Then you spin and look at the moon set to the west. In other words your point of view has changed. The amount of change depends on how far north or south of the equator. Illusionary. It’s very complex from here and another whole narrative. 🤔📸 It will make you crazy trying to figure this one out lololol.
Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this 📸
You have to get working that camera on Manual if you want to do this kind of work lol. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of fstop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitiviey) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 Suffice to say, distance is your friend here and lots of lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet tall from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Not a crop.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
MOON MONDAY 3PM offer… Moon photos all day today. This is number 4.
These two jokers were hanging out where I was driving just as the moon Full December moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, the blue like under it is the shadow of the eastern horizon on the western atmospheric ice screen. There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon. As the western horizon moves upwards, the blue will disappear along with the full moon setting in due time.
Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
MOON MONDAY 12pm ‘entry’ for this Last Monday of the decade.
The Pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow phenomena that colors the sky Pink was turning to cranberry on the left of the frame. I LOVE smooth subtle gradients in skies.
I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any further as topography is my master in that. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon is considered an infinite focus but in low light, getting closer things precisely focused is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode….
High F-stop number give you deep focal fields but they are a double edged sword. High f-stop also steals light which is in short supply in this lighting. Distance from the foreground object IS YOUR FRIEND. Getting too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. The moon has to be in close far perspective with almost anything to be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close far perspectives. Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do.
Full Horse Moon…. instead of Quarter Horse Moon…. 😜😄
I would like to thank the quarter horse and the moon for sitting for me. A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The horse was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool morning by the way. It was around 10 degrees at the time, 10 inches of snow all over the ranch land. This neighbors horse was with his all black cohort free ranging out in the backcountry. I happened by about the same time the horizon was rising to cover the moon from below. What a coincidence 🤗
This setting moon that morning was very visible with the sun rising over my shoulder left frame. The lighting was wonderful, the sky robins egg blue with wisps of clouds. The horse was only about 150 yards out for the soft focus in the close/far perspective that this image is. I’d preferred 200-300 yards but beggar opportunist photographers can’t be choosy sometimes 😜👁 Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the horse would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the horse. I couldn’t walk any further back and still line this up. Topography is my master.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.
I look at this and see a moon orbiting a gas giant planet such as Jupiter. That is because I live in a science fiction world of fantasy at times. I also have a somewhat overactive imagination but that is for another story lol.
To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.
A big super-telephoto fast Canon lens to do this work is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.
Perspectives of Close/Far are a favorite pursuit of mine particularly if the Moon is part of the photo. In the gamut of my photography, chasing the moon seems to be a constant. This chase of a terrestrial object in focus with the moon is literally a sub-hobby of mine. Nestled within the larger business of pursuing the possibilities of light on a broad scale. I still consider my self to be a landscape photographer. I find myself distracted by any movement or unusual angle most of the time. Click….. This morning of glass clear skies had me working at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy. One of the things I try really hard to do during a moon set this clear is “keep busy” lolol.
On a sub-zero mid-winter morning, the Moon decided to roll down the hill but it hit some resistance in the high grass as it was just starting. It couldn’t go any farther down hill so it “rose to the occasion”. Actually this is a setting moon. Keep track of those three equal sized mares on the right pointing to 3 o’clock. That indicates a setting moon. If those 3 circles are pointing to 12 noon, it’s a rising moon.
Positioning compositions like this becomes a matter of millimeter side to side or up and down movements of my camera/head. You really can’t use a tripod easily doing this. The moon is always moving. You might think there is a limited window of opportunity to catch this moment. Yup. Pretty limited but I was doing this by hand and as such, I could move with the moon. It is literally dancing with the moon. 🌕🕺📷
It’s not a composite which is why it’s not quite what I wanted focus wise. It took a LOT of smoothing though to compensate for the low light gain as this was handheld (high camera sensitivity gives big chunky grains) .Atmospheric distortion was scalloping the edge of the moon too. I even had to give somewhere with the focus and that was on the moon. I was overly close to the Bird to do this ideally so I’ll use the image to teach. It’s still a pretty cool capture lol.
What you have to do if you just don’t have enough distance from the close object….. HINT: focus BETWEEN the terrestrial object and the moon having each JUST A LITTLE blurry.
Hopefully your highest possible f-stop number for your lens is used. F-stop will give you a deep field of focus. The bottom line is distance from the terrestrial object is your friend. The field of focus may be big enough to bring both into focus. Not perfectly here. Wish I would have had enough time for a tripod. The bird wasn’t well compensated for his time and he left pretty quickly lolol.
Something to consider:
Dinosaurs peered at the same moon that this modern version of an Avian Dinosaur is watching right now. I love ironic scientific connections. I point out that with time the moon is moving away from the earth so the moon was a little bigger and closer during the age of the dinosaurs. It was closer the further back in time you go.
Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.
Here the moon had found a nice place to slowly roll down hill but alas, a young “ent” (ish) tree has stopped it’s progression. The moon seeing it had no other way had to climb up the sky to evade and escape the clutches of the local clan of “Ents”. Thank heavens it didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess up if even one of those trees get’s their way.🤔🤔
Back to my normal programming:
Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….
Way outside a normal photographic challenge. I come up with these ideas, show up to the time and place. Then I have to figure out how to capture such a low light event. 🤔📷
This was a 1/15th second time exposure as it was very dark out for this. The wind was BARELY moving the windmill’s sail. The camera is about 400 yards from the windmill’s blurred fan (in the camera). The moon was 200+ thousand miles out and only about 3 percent illuminated. The morning sky was full of a dark brown ice glow starting into alpenglow.
A big 600 mm fast lenses will do wonderful captures if you can keep them still enough. Any wind on a big camera lens in this amount of light is a tough photographic environment. A shot timer in the camera is a good thing (or a remote shutter switch). It takes a second or two for a really big lens to settle down motion induced by the click. The Montana/Wyoming borderlands I frequent are mostly high ridges. The wind is actually higher up here than down at more reasonable altitudes. Truly this is a tough photographic environment to catch such a low light moment in space and time.
To catch a blurred windmill sail as well as a dim crescent in the same photo….. Taking photos in very low light at distance is an interesting game. If you get a chance to try this with your gear, start at a 1/15th second time exposure. Go longer if you need if your tripod mounting the camera.
Artistically I was compositing two nested arcs in the same image. I believe this was about 1 hour before sunrise. Taken during either late astronomic twilight or earliest nautical twilight. There was just a slight glow in the sky, just enough to eek this image out.