Any Tips for Moonlit Shots?

photonius

EOS RP
Jul 13, 2013
243
24
mackguyver said:
So there I was, standing on a country road under the full moon. Dogs barked in the distance, and the whippoorwills and owls layered their calls over the sounds of chirping crickets. The bright light of the full moon quickly disappeared as I walked under the patchwork of tall tree limbs and Spanish moss. The 1D X laughed at me with black exposures when I attempted the recommended exposure times. In the shade of the moon, I needed 3 or more stops of exposure.

Unfortunately it was Friday night and every country boy and girl was out on the roads making even a 2 minute exposure at ISO 6400 all but impossible. The 4+ minutes I needed never materialized and after setting up over a dozen times only to see headlights in the distance, I packed up and went home with a few desperate shots. It turns out that long exposures at ISO3200 and above are a bad idea. Dark frame subtraction seemed to make it worse. And composition with a f/4 lens was a joke, especially with my headlamps sitting on a shelf at home.

At home, Photo Mechanic showed crushed black covering the majority of the frames on every shot :(. DxO PRIME laughed at me as it made the noise look worse. Apparently it is not built to handle long exposures at high ISOs... Photoshop choked on the files and ACR curled up in a ball and cried. Then DPP made an appearance, with it's brand new 11-24 f/4 profile. It managed the noise better than the rest, and ALO managed to brighten things up a bit without unleashing the pixelated trolls hiding in the shadows.

In the end, it was:
Cars 25 - Photographer 0.5 (half a point for effort)

If I had to do over, I'd have brought my headlamp(!), shot at whatever ISO I needed to get the right exposure in 30s or less, and done it very early in the morning or later at night. I think the 4000K white balance worked, at least.

Here are two shots that kinda, sorta turned out. Hopefully the next full moon won't be on a Friday night!

nice but still looks as if it could have been shot with the evening sun.
Unfortunately digital cameras are not really like eyes in this regard. At night we loose color vision, that's why
everything looks black and grey. maybe taking out color saturation would help getting the right effect.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
10,429
5,654
mackguyver said:
So there I was, standing on a country road under the full moon. Dogs barked in the distance, and the whippoorwills and owls layered their calls over the sounds of chirping crickets. The bright light of the full moon quickly disappeared as I walked under the patchwork of tall tree limbs and Spanish moss. The 1D X laughed at me with black exposures when I attempted the recommended exposure times. In the shade of the moon, I needed 3 or more stops of exposure.

Unfortunately it was Friday night and every country boy and girl was out on the roads making even a 2 minute exposure at ISO 6400 all but impossible. The 4+ minutes I needed never materialized and after setting up over a dozen times only to see headlights in the distance, I packed up and went home with a few desperate shots. It turns out that long exposures at ISO3200 and above are a bad idea. Dark frame subtraction seemed to make it worse. And composition with a f/4 lens was a joke, especially with my headlamps sitting on a shelf at home.

At home, Photo Mechanic showed crushed black covering the majority of the frames on every shot :(. DxO PRIME laughed at me as it made the noise look worse. Apparently it is not built to handle long exposures at high ISOs... Photoshop choked on the files and ACR curled up in a ball and cried. Then DPP made an appearance, with it's brand new 11-24 f/4 profile. It managed the noise better than the rest, and ALO managed to brighten things up a bit without unleashing the pixelated trolls hiding in the shadows.

In the end, it was:
Cars 25 - Photographer 0.5 (half a point for effort)

If I had to do over, I'd have brought my headlamp(!), shot at whatever ISO I needed to get the right exposure in 30s or less, and done it very early in the morning or later at night. I think the 4000K white balance worked, at least.

Here are two shots that kinda, sorta turned out. Hopefully the next full moon won't be on a Friday night!

1D X + 11-24 f/4 @ 11mm, f/4, 30s, ISO 3200. This was actually a test shot - the only time I had more than 1.5 minutes between cars, ironically...
Moonlit_Canopy_Road_20733-XL.jpg


1D X + 11-24 f/4 @ 11mm, f/4, 120s, ISO 6400 (note the taillights in the distance...)
Moonlit_Canopy_Road_20744-XL.jpg

Yes you need to get a quieter spot and lower ISO, don't forget the impact raising ISO has on DR, please god don't let this turn into another DR battle.

I did some testing with the 1DS MkIII a long time ago that showed 891 sec exposures at 100iso have zero noise and great DR.

Here is the full shot and the 100% crop. Bare in mind that is a 15 minute exposure and there is zero NR applied, actually there is zero anything applied, but the breeze messed with the sharpness of the trees and the focusing, I was playing with tilt also, which wasn't set quite right.

The actual point of the test was to see if I could shoot at f5.6 and tilt to get the dof where I wanted on a very dark night. In general the idea worked but I haven't found a practical application for it yet so forgive the subject matter, my chicken house has seen better days!
 

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Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,314
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
photonius said:
nice but still looks as if it could have been shot with the evening sun.

Which is amazing, after all cheap movies were often criticized for using the "day 4 night" effect, i.e. shooting in harsh sunlight and making it appear as full moon. And now here's a genuine full moon shot, and you're saying it looks like sunlight, of all things :->

Anyway, here's my entry from last night, after searching for 2 hours at freezing point through the woods I at last found the wild horses I was looking for. They were just at the end of their nightly pause, so I only managed to do a couple of shots, will try again today, with a cleaner filter :p

What I'm trying to do with these is to make it actually appear as moonlight with the actual moon in the frame:

axel-luessow_(der-tierfotograf.de)_4GG5Q_700W_web-en.png


axel-luessow_(der-tierfotograf.de)_540XA_700W_web-en.png


axel-luessow_(der-tierfotograf.de)_TPDA_700W_web-en.png
 

serendipidy

EOS 5D Mark IV
May 7, 2012
1,911
1
Stayed up 4 hours past my bedtime to try to get the lunar eclipse this AM. Totality at 2 AM. The weather was terrible. Severely overcast fast moving clouds so bad you couldn't even tell where the moon was. Would get a 10 second break about every 15 minutes. Even then, there was fast moving wispy fog. Even some rain (ran for cover). With my 7D and 100-400L (not the new one), this is the best I could do.
Lunar Eclipse Apr 4, 2015 by EricJ777, on Flickr
Lunar Eclipse Apr 4, 2015 by EricJ777, on Flickr
Lunar Eclipse Apr 4, 2015 by EricJ777, on Flickr
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
10,429
5,654
So I was bored this evening and went out to the closest lake. This is a two shot shift stitch with the 17TS-E at f5.6 and a couple of degrees of forwards tilt, 100ISO, 240 second exposures. Just put together in PS, no NR (in camera or post), sharpening or anything, the light on the left is the moonlight and the light on the right is city light pollution, these were taken around 22:30 this evening so no daylight in the scene.

First image full image at 8323x3715px for a 31MP image off an effective 54mm x 24mm sensor, second and third images 100% crops, again, with zero NR or sharpening.

Oh, one tip, narrow down your exposure quicker by using high iso, then when you want the 'hero' shot just lengthen the exposure to match the lower ISO.
 

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Dylan777

EOS-1D X Mark III
Nov 17, 2011
5,514
9
privatebydesign said:
So I was bored this evening and went out to the closest lake. This is a two shot shift stitch with the 17TS-E at f5.6 and a couple of degrees of forwards tilt, 100ISO, 240 second exposures. Just put together in PS, no NR (in camera or post), sharpening or anything, the light on the left is the moonlight and the light on the right is city light pollution, these were taken around 22:30 this evening so no daylight in the scene.

First image full image at 8323x3715px for a 31MP image off an effective 54mm x 24mm sensor, second and third images 100% crops, again, with zero NR or sharpening.

Oh, one tip, narrow down your exposure quicker by using high iso, then when you want the 'hero' shot just lengthen the exposure to match the lower ISO.

Wow...you know how to photograph too :eek:.... ;D.... ;)

Very nice privatebydesign
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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Dylan777 said:
privatebydesign said:
So I was bored this evening and went out to the closest lake. This is a two shot shift stitch with the 17TS-E at f5.6 and a couple of degrees of forwards tilt, 100ISO, 240 second exposures. Just put together in PS, no NR (in camera or post), sharpening or anything, the light on the left is the moonlight and the light on the right is city light pollution, these were taken around 22:30 this evening so no daylight in the scene.

First image full image at 8323x3715px for a 31MP image off an effective 54mm x 24mm sensor, second and third images 100% crops, again, with zero NR or sharpening.

Oh, one tip, narrow down your exposure quicker by using high iso, then when you want the 'hero' shot just lengthen the exposure to match the lower ISO.

Wow...you know how to photograph too :eek:.... ;D.... ;)

Very nice privatebydesign

Why thank you Dylan, it is a thing I do occasionally that I generally keep separate from the forums, I like to give RLPhoto something to criticize me about ;)
 
Interesting follow ups - with nice work and great shots from serendipidy, Marsu, and Private. A few comments:

photonius, I don't think it looks like the evening sun, but don't plan on doing any further work on these files. I'm not happy with them and there is so little lattitude in the files, I can't do much with them. Also, if I were making this look like what I saw, keeping in mind my night vision was being obliterated by headlights a lot, it would look like what I have attached below...

Private, I did the whole super high ISO short exposure, then calculate long exposure trick, but it fell down on me because I moved to a darker spot and ultimately because I didn't have time to expose for the scene with the traffic. Also, I think a shorter exposure at a higher ISO would have worked because I didn't need much DR. I would happily blow out the sky for a few stops of shadow. It would have been very workable in post.

Marsu, I think your photos look great in terms of the mood of moonlight, so I'm sure the cold was worth it. And serendipidy, the blood moon from the eclipse is beautiful. I bet it was a sight to see! Also, Private, I think the blend of the blue moonlight and yellowish artificial light makes for an interesting effect in your photo.
 

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