Blue moon picture – evolution of my moon photography… (@nikonusa)

I finally got my 14-24mm back and even though after spending almost $500 fixing it and going through all that, you would think I would leave it at home and never ever take it out again.   You would be wrong.   I’ve been looking to take a decent moon picture for a while now. This month’s Blue Moon was a great opportunity to do this. I should mention first that a “Blue Moon” has nothing to do with the color. If a month has two full moons, it’s a called a Blue Moon. I’m sure the internet can explain it better. I tend to like to use cooler white balances while shooting the moon so that’s why my pictures look more blue.

At any rate, here is the evolution of the process that I’ve gone thorugh:

Back when I still had my 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VR lens, I tried more straight up moon pictures like this one during a Super Moon:

Super Full Moon

It’s nice, but then if people want to look at the moon, they can go on NASA’s website and get a much better picture. it occurred to me that the best moon pictures are the ones that have some interesting foreground. Earlier this year on Cinco De Mayo, we had another Super Moon so I decided to have my camera and lens with me and took this picture. I didn’t have my tripod or anything so just sat the 14-24mm lens on the bag(glad the lens didn’t fall down then). Also used a remote flash on the sculpture to make it pop more.

Super Moon

Again, it was good, hell, why be modest? It was a GREAT picture, but as my friend kept asking, “what’s so super about the moon?”. Good point. The Super part only comes out if you zoom in as much as you can and have it against a backdrop to make it appear bigger.

Unfortunately, the moon is really bright so if I want the moon to show up, the building disappears. Hopefully my next Nikon camera (most likely the D600) will have a little more dynamic range than the D90 so I can pull out more detail out of both the moon and the buildings.

Downtown Houston over a full moon

For now, there has to be some compromise so these are the types of pictures I would get:
Downtown Houston over a full moon

Tonight is the Blue Moon, but I decided to go out last night to see if I could get one with a more compelling foreground. I was hoping to get there before the sun went down but I got there later. I knew I wanted to make the moon look as big as possible which would mean I would have to use a telephoto lens (Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D) but I wanted to test out the 14-24mm as well and took a little panorama.

Sam Houston Under Blue Moon

My only two lenses were the 14-24mm and 80-200 so after some trial and error I found a nice spot to where I could zoom in (ie get the moon to look bigger) and the shot would be still dramatic enough to make the viewer feel like they were in the picture. The only problem was that clouds started to move in and block the moon! If you see in the ultra wide angle shot, the clouds on the right side were starting to move to the left. I had a couple of pictures before that, but the angle wasn’t quite right so I moved back and waited…

After about an hour (around 9:30 PM on an empty street given there was a Texans Game and the GOP convention on TV), I was going to pack it up so I wouldn’t get stabbed or robbed (or both!) and there was finally a break in the cloud cover and I managed to get a few pictures before the clouds were completely gone. I’ve seen this picture both with and without clouds and the clouds really made it look more dynamic and dramatic. Good News was that there are two bright spotlights on the statue to help balance out the light of the moon, but the bad news is it was a tungsten light. Fortunately, I shoot everything raw and Lightroom has a graduated filter so that made the picture appear as if it was being lit by the moon.

I like it. Now I need a new location for the next full moon. I have other plans tonight.
Sam Houston Under Blue Moon


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