Shoot by moonlight
Forget flash – Claire Gillo shows you how to shoot a landscape scene lit by the moon
Use a long exposure to shoot a landscape by the light of the moon
In the heart of winter when the daylight hours are short and the nights long, make the most of these dark conditions by shooting a moonlit landscape. Shooting at night can be magical. By using a long exposure time you can capture a scene that you are unable to see with your naked eye.
For this project we don't want to actually photograph the moon but instead have the landscape lit by it. This means we need to make sure we're on location at the right time, when the moon is at its brightest. The best way to ensure this is to check the lunar calendar. Search online and you’ll be able to find out when the moon is full (or almost full) and also what time it rises, sets and when it’s going to be in the right position. The Photographer's Ephemeris (www.photoephemeris.com) is an excellent desktop and mobile app for checking this information.
On the evening of our shoot we knew the moon would be lighting our subject, this craggy cliff, at around 8pm. The moon wasn't quite full but was still bright enough to take pictures by. If you're unlucky enough to have a cloudy sky on the night you
Make the most of dark conditions by shooting a moonlit landscape… By using a long exposure you can capture a scene that you are unable to see with the naked eye
were planning to take pictures, you'll need to rearrange your shoot as this technique won't work if there’s masses of cloud cover.
As with taking pictures by day, you also need to find a landmark that will be of interest in the frame. We selected the iconic Nash Point, near Cardiff in Wales, for ours. The warm tones of the rock set against the cool night sky works really well.
For this project we recommend you shoot in RAW as you then have more flexibility at the editing stage to enhance the scene. If you're not going to shoot in RAW you need to be much more accurate with your exposure times, and we’d also recommend you set the white balance to a cool setting to enhance the moonlit effect (see page 61 for more on this).