October 7, 2015

THE BLOOD MOON : AN EXPERIMENT IN NIGHT SHOOTING

We've been doing a bit more experimenting in night shooting and it was definitely practice as we don't do that much night shooting at all. The last time we intentionally took photos at night was last year during our camping trip in Angeles National Forest. But I'm hoping to start taking more photos around the camp fire. Oh my gracious, I swoon over good camp fire photos. But for this particular night shoot we were focused on the moon during the total lunar eclipse.

Seeing that this was the first time we ever really shot the moon we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. We were out for a solid 30 minutes, snapping photos and doing some fun experimenting as well. The first two photos you'll see below are some fun experimental ones that Tyler tried and I just love how they came out.
THE GEAR
Before we talk about how we actually took these shots, I'll fill you in on our gear. For these moon shots we shot every thing with our Nikon D300s and our Nikkor 55-300mm lens. We don't shoot with this lens all that often, but it's perfect when you need a good zoom. We also shot everything with our tripod. So, there we were, outside in our front lawn snapping away.

THE SETTINGS
First things first, when shooting at night the tripod is a must because you have to get a really long exposure to let in as much light as possible. If you remember the Exposure Triangle post, you know that we need to consider three things; ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, to get a proper exposure. Even though it was dark and there was literally no light, I kept my ISO low at 250. I knew, I would be making up for the lack of light with the tripod and shutter speed. The first 10 shots we took we shot with an aperture of 5.6. We took a handful of photos with the shutter speed at 3, 4, and 5 seconds. These settings seem to work the best. With the shutter any faster, we weren't getting enough light and with the shutter any slower, we started seeing ghosting in the moon because it was moving... or was the earth moving... I'm a photographer, not a scientist. ;)

THE EXPERIMENTING 
Everything about our shoot was very experimental. I knew what we needed to do to get a good exposure, but I didn't know exactly what our shutter needed to be so we simple experimented. We started with 4 seconds because I had a feeling that might be a good jumping off point. We jumped up to 30 seconds to see what kind of outcome we would get. We also experimented with our aperture. I knew that in landscape photography you want an aperture ranging in the teens or even twenties. So we tried a few apertures around f16 and higher. These didn't seem to work for what we were trying to do so we went back to f5.6.

Tyler also ended up experimenting with the actual zoom aspect of our lens in the photos. The photo above where it looks like there are two moons and the photo underneath Tyler adjusted the zoom while the shutter was open.
When we set out to take pictures of the moon we didn't set out to take a perfect picture, we simple knew we wanted to capture the moment. We didn't stress about getting anything just right, we just got out there and tried. We had no idea what the outcome we be, but we knew we would have fun. That is what making pictures should be about, having fun and capturing your story.

Have you done any experimenting with night shooting? Were you able to experience this amazing moment with the moon? 

related: Understanding The Exposure Triangle.

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