15 April: Matt’s moonshot photo (& the story behind it)

Matt Prosser IMG_4869 Fixed 10x8 Desaturated (small)-1Here’s Matt’s moonshot story (see also “How hard can it be?” and “Propitious date & time 15 April”):

A trial run the night before made me realise that I was going to be out of position and unlike William I realised that the river was going to be in the way. I found a new location and set up my gear. The offset was due to the fact that the clump is not at sea level, which also accounted for the delay in seeing the moon.

With regard to the photo itself I had to overlay two shots on top of each other. One shot is exposed for the hill and one exposed for the moon. The reason this is necessary is because a digital camera is not as good as the human eye at compensating for very high levels of contrast. The human eye can make selective adjustments to the exposure of an image it sees so we can see the detail in the moon and the clump at the same time. While software like photoshop can make selective adjustment to the exposure levels of a photo after it has been taken it can only do this for a range of about 3 or 4 stops only. For the moonshot exposing for the moon leaves everything else blacked out (like William’s photo) while exposing for the landscape leaves the moon as a white ‘burnt out’ disc with no recoverable information.

The photo is nonetheless genuine and not a creation of photoshop. If it were I would have taken a pin sharp close up of the clump and silhouetted it against a stock photo of the moon. (now there’s an idea). As it is you can see the limitations of my standard 55-250mm kit lens on a modest (Canon EOS600D) camera after a heavy crop of the final image. For those interested in such things the shot settings are as follows: Moon 1/25 sec, f:11.0, ISO400: Landscape 1.0 sec, f5.6, ISO400

Admin note: I find this remarkable, all the more so having been prewarned and tried to be in the right place at the right time. But I think this blog theme doesn’t show low light pictures off to best advantage. Will try to explore some sort of plug-in. My friend Paul recommends Fancybox but I cant see how to apply it to a standard WordPress hosted blog (there’s no plugins menu). Glad of any advice. This may mean going premium…

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