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:
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:
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.
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.