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Thread: Moonrise Symphony of Light

  1. #1
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Wanted to get some better quality Moon images, so last night (Wed.) I drove up into the local mountains early enough to have ample time to set-up the tripod and camera, take a few long exposure photo's of the valley and Cascade Mtn's, and then be ready for the Moon to rise at about 9:45. The jagged peaks of the North Cascades are in the 6000' to 10,000' range, and are snow capped all year long. There are over 300 glaciers in the range, as well, and I was hoping to catch the moonlight reflecting off one of the larger ones.

    Found a nice spot off the edge of the mountain road with a wide open view of the valley and mountains to the East, and fortunately only had to park my pickup about 20 yds. away, meaning I could play the radio to help keep the bears and cougars away. The Blackberries are quickly getting ripe in the warm days of late August, and both Black and Grizzly bears inhabit the area; spending their days filling their bellies with sweet juicy berries, and I sure didn't care to meet one in the dark. My hearing is so bad that even if one did sneak up on me I would never know it was there, and worse yet, I was munching on pistachio nuts as I stood there, alone and in the dark..... We can't always pick up radio stations, but luck was with me as soon a "classic rock" station from Canada was playing just loud enough for me to hear it 20 meters away. It was comforting knowing that the vintage tunes playing in the background were sure to keep any wild critters at a safe distance (at least I hoped so!).

    It was all worth it, as about 9:30 I looked up towards the North Cascade peaks, and saw a thin line of illumination on a band of clouds that had formed over the glaciers. Using the 70mm-300mm, I had been shooting 30 second exposures of the mountains/valley in the dark (which came out well), so I immediately manually focused on the peaks, dropped the ISO back to 640 and reset the exposure to 20 seconds. Took several shots with these settings, and then as the light from the still hidden (but quickly rising) Moon increased, I dropped the ISO back further to 500, and again reduced the exposure, this time to 15 sec.

    The reflected light and the cloud formations were changing every second, right along with the intensity of the light as the Moon came closer and closer to making its grand appearance right on top of the highest glacial peaks. I knew that as soon as the Moon showed there would be an immediate need to adjust all the settings again to allow for the massive influx of light, and it was difficult to keep up as I could only make a guess as to what settings would be best in the changing conditions.

    If any bears were watching, they must have been laughing their arses off at the human who would take a picture, then curse as he fumbled trying to change the exposure settings, take another picture, curse some more...you get the picture.

    Here is one of the images that I processed. I'm so new to this that I have no doubt that it can be processed much, much better by someone with proper software and the skills to know what to do with it:

    Moonrise Symphony of Light
    Nikon D90, VR 70-300mm F/4.5-5.6G, 180mm, F/5.6, 15s, 0EV, ISO 500
    (for best view - use F11 and then open image)

    I was reading in a thread earlier this evening where Jiro suggested a member upload the RAW file to Mediafire, so taking his suggestion I created an account and uploaded the .NEF files for the image above, and also for the next two that were taken in immediate succession to the above. It is my hope that one of you with proper software would be willing to give these images a try, as I believe they have the potential to be very good if processed by someone who knows what they are doing. Files are posted at:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?oa17zlmlgfaz0

    Below is the original, unprocessed image of the pic above. All I did was convert from .NEF to .JPG and resize. The processing on the top image was done in Nikon Nx2, and I cloned out the flare and star trails, airbrushed the left edge and resized in Microsoft Image Composer. That's all the software I have at the moment, and both programs are quite limited in their abilities, as am I.

    Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Appreciate your thoughts, comments and criticisms, and if you wish, please feel free to download and share your interpretation of the remaining images. Files are in the 8.0 - 8.5 mb. range.

    Thank you for looking, and also for your patience reading through the lengthy post. I often feel compelled to share the stories that go along with my adventures, as life can be such an incredible journey if we are simply willing to reach out and take hold of the opportunities as they come to us.

    Mike
    Last edited by Dizzy; 19th August 2011 at 09:01 AM.

  2. #2
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Hi Mike, I just love it when someone thinks 'outside of the box' and comes up with a bold new concept (at least for me it is)! I would have never thought of shooting a moonrise or moonset! Great job and a very nice image!

  3. #3
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    I didn't mind reading your story. It's a very nice one!

    I can't help you with the processing, I'm a newbee myself and at the moment I only use View NX2. The one you are using? I didn't know that it had a clone tool in it.
    I'm (after my course in France) specialising in SOOC, so post-processing is something I 'm not doing at the moment, or better as less as possible.

    I really like your pictures and I'm very curious about the post-processing results.
    Keep on the good work!!

  4. #4
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Mike, this is how far I can push the edit on the 3rd image you uploaded. I decided to render it in b&w as there is not much color data to recover on the shot. Hope this helps. Link to the edited .tiff file to follow so you can use it.

    Moonrise Symphony of Light

  5. #5
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Another version but this time I stretched it to make the moon look more circular.

    Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Btw, here's the link to the edited .tiff file. Hope this could help. http://www.mediafire.com/?sxhi68h3n6qff3d
    Last edited by jiro; 19th August 2011 at 04:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Mike

    I downloaded a couple of the RAWs. The histograms are packed up against the left-hand side, so there's nothing really to work with.

    I think it would benefit from having exposed to get just a hint of detail into the land. I think having the mountains all at total black is a bit overpowering.

    This is the sort of shot that needs longer exposure, I think. And to hold the bright part of the sky? Well that's where the reverse GND filters come into play.

  7. #7
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Thank you Frank. As for "out of the box", just ask my wife or family and odds are they'll tell you I've never been "in the box", or anywhere near it....LOL

    Pierre: The cloning out of the star trails was done in Microsoft Image Composer, which was an add-on that came with a old website building program. I believe you can get a free copy here (as always, be cautious with downloads):

    http://www.freedownloadscenter.com/M..._Composer.html

    Willie: Way cool! I like the B&W, and the Moon at that moment (seconds) did honestly appear in the shape of an egg. Atmospheric distortion does odd things to celestial bodies, no doubt. The live view of the colors that were dancing across the clouds as the Moon rose reminded me a bit of the Aurora Borealis we are blessed with seeing when the Sun acts up at the right time.

    Thank you for your suggestions Donald, and given another chance to get back up there I'll try a bit longer exposure. Next time will be with bear spray and maybe even borrow a neighbors dog, as it will start yapping if an undesired critter gets too close.

    I was shooting the pics from HERE, and was right near where it says "Finney Creek Rd." Pretty remote spot, no doubt. If you scroll out from that location and follow the Skagit River (going East) it runs into the North Cascade range of mountains shown in the image. Klawatti Peak, the Dorado Needle and El Dorado Peak are about most prominent peaks in the image.

    Could you suggest a decent quality (but affordable) reverse GND filter? I checked on Amazon and they offer the Tiffen GND filters, but no offers for the reverse version.

    There are many items on the "wish list", and good quality filters are among them. Fortunately there are about a dozen different locations I can view that moonrise from, and on both sides of the valley, so the opportunity to position the Moon right over the peaks will come again.

    Although it might be a bit of an artistic departure from the norm, there is a feature in Nikon Nx that allows the user to pick from a list of standard "White Balance" options, and along with some additional color/contrast/brightness adjustments using these white balance options can really create some interesting color blends in the clouds lit-up by the rising Moon.

    If time permits I'll try a couple later this evening. Might be fun just to see how they come out after some creative adjustments....

    Mike
    Last edited by Dizzy; 19th August 2011 at 06:20 PM.

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Quote Originally Posted by Dizzy View Post
    I was shooting the pics from HERE, and was right near where it says "Finney Creek Rd." Pretty remote spot, no doubt.
    Now that is indeed remote!

    Have a look at the Singh Ray reverse GND (Colin has one). Not cheap, but top-of-the-line product, if you want to get serious about sunsets/sunrises; moonsets/moonrises.

  9. #9
    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Moonrise Symphony of Light

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Now that is indeed remote!
    If you looked at the Google map you can see that the Finney Creek Rd. goes quite a distance into the mountains, and in about 16 miles you get the option of left, or right. Left (South) is another 25 miles+ of wilderness before you hit pavement again. Going right takes you 20 miles+ across the tops of the mountains to the West, and there are numerous peaks where you can camp out. There are tremendous territorial views with unlimited visibility at times (to the horizon out over the Pacific), so that is where I would want to go to take sunset images. Due to the heavy snows (and waiting for them to melt off) these areas are only accessible by vehicle 3-4 months a year.

    If you get in trouble way up there (and are lucky enough to find a cellular signal), the help would come by way of helicopter, as any ground based assistance is hours away, at best. Where I was Wed. night was just at the beginning of the wilderness area, so if I called for help it would only be about 15-20 minutes (plenty of time for the bear to have his way with me..ROFL..)

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Have a look at the Singh Ray reverse GND (Colin has one). Not cheap, but top-of-the-line product, if you want to get serious about sunsets/sunrises; moonsets/moonrises.
    They aren't completely out of affordable range, although there are other needs that will come first (like software). Looks like the best way would be to get the Cokin Z-PRO Filter Holder and a 67mm adapter to fit the Nikkor lenses, and then I could use a variety of the different filters in the same mount.

    When observing the Moon with a telescope, I use a variable polarizing filter to reduce the Moons intensity and provide more contrast to the geographic features (valleys, craters, etc.). Is there a comparable filter for photographic use?

    Mike

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