Noobee at Night Photography - help please

phkc070408

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I was on vacation at an Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I planned on getting some sunset pictures and was pretty successful with that. About 20 minutes after pitch black, I got an unexpected surprise - a full moon rose over the mountain.

I quickly got my tripod and my Canon T5i that I shoot in Raw mode, and put it in 2 second delayed mode. Since I was using a tripod, I wasn't too worried about blur, so I set my ISO to 100. I took several shots with different shutter speeds and F stops.

Unfortunately, my Raw shots were not that impressive. I saw two general patterns.

1. The ones that I shot with a faster shutter speed (5 seconds or below) were crisp, but were so dark that brightening them up with Lightroom produced a ton of noise, so much that luminance noise reduction distorted the picture too much.

2. The pictures that I shot with a slower shutter speed (between 10 seconds and 30 seconds) came out a bit blurry. I was highly disappointed and wonder what would have caused the slight blur. The tripod was on solid ground, and I attempted to remain as still as possible while the shutter was open.

I have uploaded some of the photos to my Google Drive. While I didn't included the RAWs, I included two versions of each picture, the "A" version is an unedited JPEG, and the version with just the number is a Lightroom edit.

Forum Photos - Google Drive

I would greatly appreciate if someone could please comment on these and let me know what I should do different next time.

Thanks in advanced
 

SquarePeg

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These are all over exposed. Shutter speeds are too long - even the ones you considered faster. You need to expose for the moon so it doesn't get blown out - you want to be able to see a bit of detail in the moon itself. Use spot metering, spotted on the moon. Stay above 1/60 shutter speed to avoid blur since the moon is moving. Set your aperture at f/6-8ish and ISO as low as you can get it with that shutter speed and ISO.
 

SquarePeg

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Adding to that - if you are looking for a photo of the moon with something else visible in it, you need to do it early in the moonrise while the sky is still light enough to make out your mountains or whatever. If you want to lift the shadows in the foreground, you should selectively lift just that, not the whole photo as you want to avoid brightening so much that the moon becomes just a big blob of light.
 
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phkc070408

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You need to expose for the moon so it doesn't get blown out
I can definitely see this

Use spot metering, spotted on the moon
I'll have to look into this. I'm unfamiliar with it.

Stay above 1/60 shutter speed to avoid blur since the moon is moving
I get the part about the moon moving, but at 1/60, how would I be able to see the surrounding landscape? In real life, the moon lit up the earth and the water pretty bright (bright for night). In the pictures I took with a slower shutter speed, all I got was a white spot on the moon. I had to increase the exposure to the point that it was all grainy.
 

SquarePeg

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I get the part about the moon moving, but at 1/60, how would I be able to see the surrounding landscape? In real life, the moon lit up the earth and the water pretty bright (bright for night). In the pictures I took with a slower shutter speed, all I got was a white spot on the moon. I had to increase the exposure to the point that it was all grainy.

Merging multiple photos would be the best way to get some of the other elements into the photo. The moon photos that you see online with the lit foregrounds and the detail in the moon are likely composites of multiple exposures.
 
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phkc070408

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OK. From what I gather, what I wanted to accomplish was basically impossible. It makes sense. Like I mentioned in my first post, this was totally unexpected and unplanned for. Thank you for your help. It makes perfect sense.
 

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Excellent info from SquarePeg. I will add that it does look like you had some camera movement during the long exposures. Maybe wind, maybe shake from mirror slap... something shook your tripod.
 

kalgra

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Does your lens have IS if so be sure to turn that off when using a tripod as it can cause blur. This has bitten me many times.
 

Original katomi

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Re post 4
If you are getting some grain/noise you can convert to B+W that way the noise can be lost ish in the moon where as coloured specks are stand out more
 

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As others have already mentioned, the dynamic range of bright moon at night is usually to great to get in one shot. Sometimes you can grab a shot during early evening, but otherwise multiples combined in post is the way to go. Bear in mind that while it's great to be able to lift the shadows in post, doing so also increases the noise.

I've have no problem with long shutters. Blur comes from camera movement, or subject movement. Wind can move trees/plants/camera, which can also be magnified by a longer focal length lens. When using long shutters, setting your camera for mirror up, and using the timer or a remote shutter release is important to prevent movement.
 

wfooshee

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Also keep in mind that the camera is absolutely incapable of duplicating what you see with your eye. As you look at a scene, you don't take in the overall scene, even though you think you're looking at the wide, full, area. Whatever is in the center of your vision is all your eye puts to your brain in detail. As you take in the scene, you're moving your sightline around the scene, and each little instance is perceived correctly. The camera is incapable of that. It takes in the entire scene as best it can, and as you discovered, the dark areas can be black and completely lacking detail, while the bright areas are overblown and smeared, also complete lacking detail.

Pretty much any picture you see of a moon over a landscape is a composite, such as this shot of the moon lowering into the Gulf of Mexico here at Panama City Beach. Not only is it a composite image of the water and the moon separately, I even shot them with different lenses! It's pretty close to what I "saw" with my eye, but in a single shot, the moon is either blown out and too small, or the reflection almost doesn't exist.


48766613161_1d45ef0bac_c.jpg
 
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phkc070408

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Thank yoo all for the wondeeful input. This all makes sense. I wish I would have known all of this before we got there, but as I mentioned before, this was highly unexpected. I do have a few questions regarding issues mentioned:

1. How does one avoid camera shake from the wind when taking a long exposure? (it was a bit breezy on the coastline).
2. How doee one avoid camera shake from the mirror slap?
3. Since I would need to combine a picture of just the moon with a landscape shot, I'm assuming I would use photoshop to remove the overexppsed moon from my landscape shop and paste the good moon on top?
4. I'm assuming the same concepts would apply to a stary night?

I have vacation coming up. Maybe I can practice again soon.
 

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1 try to position your tripod behind something to block wind, heavier duty tripod and/or weight the tripod. That hook on the bottom of some tripods? That's to add weight.
2. Check your manual for mirror lockup. Also use a remote shutter release or self timer. You can even use your phone as a remote release and to change settings on some cameras.
 

SquarePeg

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3. Since I would need to combine a picture of just the moon with a landscape shot, I'm assuming I would use photoshop to remove the overexppsed moon from my landscape shop and paste the good moon on top?

Not so much just copy/pasting the moon but more of a combined multiple exposures - one of the foreground and one of the sky. If you google combining multiple exposures there will be many many tutorials that come up.

5 Easy Steps to Exposure Blending for High Contast Landscapes

An Effective Way to Blend Exposures Using Photoshop
 

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