Moon­light magic

Stare out at the moon­lit sea, and come and take a pho­to­graph with Claire Gillo’s guid­ance…

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO ACTIVE -

As win­ter kicks in and the light be­gins to drop ear­lier in the day, now is the per­fect time to try your night shoot­ing skills. The beach is a won­der­ful lo­ca­tion once the sun has set: the mov­ing body of wa­ter, the curves of the bay and the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings cre­ate a match made in heaven!

For our photo shoot we were down at Black­pool Sands near Dart­mouth, Devon. We de­cided not to pho­to­graph the moon as our main sub­ject, but use the moon’s light to il­lu­mi­nate our seascape. The re­sult is won­der­ful, as the light is much softer and has a dif­fer­ent tone to sun­light.

We opted to shoot when the moon was full, and luck­ily the con­di­tions that night were per­fect! We had no clouds, the tem­per­a­ture wasn’t too nippy, and there was no wind.

De­spite these per­fect con­di­tions, shoot­ing in the dark is no easy task, and re­quires a bit of for­ward plan­ning and think­ing. Know­ing your lo­ca­tion well will help: do a recce in the day­light so you have a com­po­si­tion in mind.

A head torch will def­i­nitely come in handy when you shoot at night – although in the rush to get down to the beach for moon­rise, we for­got ours! A mo­bile phone saved the day: its torch set­ting meant we could see what we were do­ing to al­ter our cam­era set­tings.

Plan your shoot 1

To en­sure you have the per­fect con­di­tions, you’ll need to plan your shoot well. First check the weather fore­cast and what the moon phase is.

It is pos­si­ble to shoot a few days ei­ther side of a full moon, but you’ll get best re­sults with it be­ing a com­plete cir­cle.

To find out the moon’s po­si­tion and when it will be ris­ing, check out The Pho­tog­ra­pher’s Ephe­meris (www. pho­toephemeris.com). There is an app or web ver­sion where you can pin­point your ex­act lo­ca­tion to see its po­si­tion and at what times it’s ris­ing and set­ting. This is a great tool. We got down to the beach just as it was ris­ing, and it was a spec­tac­u­lar sight.

Cam­era setup 2

Mount your cam­era onto a tri­pod and se­cure it in place. For shots like this, a wide-an­gle lens will get you the best re­sults. We used a 15-30mm zoom and shot mostly at 15mm. To en­sure our tri­pod didn’t move, we pushed it down firmly into the sand and avoided walk­ing nearby after we’d re­leased the shut­ter to take an ex­po­sure.

Avoid cam­era shake 3

Cam­era shake oc­curs when your cam­era gets touched or moved dur­ing an ex­po­sure and cre­ates a blurred ef­fect, in this case spoil­ing the end re­sult. As you’re open­ing your shut­ter for such a long pe­riod of time, you re­ally want to avoid this tech­ni­cal is­sue. A re­mote shut­ter re­lease will come in handy, as it means you can avoid touch­ing your cam­era al­to­gether. If you don’t have one, you can set your cam­era to its self-timer mode, and you could also en­gage the mir­ror lockup fea­ture.

Open the aper­ture and push the ISO 4

When it comes to cap­tur­ing the night sky and stars, you want to avoid shoot­ing for long pe­ri­ods of time un­less you’re after a star trail ef­fect. So to keep the stars twin­kling in the sky as small dots, don’t go past 30 sec­onds! To en­sure you do this, use a wide aper­ture and push your ISO up. Mod­ern cam­eras are much bet­ter at han­dling noise, but do some test shots so you know the lim­i­ta­tions of your cam­era. Our cam­era set­tings for this scene were f/5.6, 30 sec­onds and

ISO 800. Go into Man­ual mode and try vari­a­tions on the ex­po­sure un­til you’re pleased with the re­sults. LEARN MORE ABOUT MAN­UAL mode: See page 40

Shoot­ing the moon 5

When the moon is full, it can be tricky to shoot di­rectly. This is be­cause the moon is kick­ing out a lot of light in com­par­i­son with the sur­round­ings, and will over­ex­pose. If you want de­tail in the moon, your land­scape will be dark; or if you want de­tail in the land­scape, the moon will be over­ex­posed and ap­pear like the sun. You can shoot two sep­a­rate ex­po­sures, but they are hard to blend nat­u­rally; in the end this is the best re­sult we could get us­ing two ex­po­sures.

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