Monday, December 12, 2011

Photo of the Day: 12 December 2011

Nikon D7000 NEF, Nikkor AF 50mm f1.8. 1.6 seconds at f8 ("f8 and be there.") at ISO 100. Matrix meter was set for -4.7EV compensation and this is a highly cropped image. Post processing included mild sharpening, the cropping, and a little color correction.

So, what went into this image, the 80th I took of the moon tonight? Why didn't the first 79 work?

In my defense, I would guess I captured about half a dozen quite similar to this one, although this remains my favorite. I took the 80 shots in five groups (20+20+20+15+5) as I got closer to what I was looking for. Why blow 20 shots at a time? I have a cheap tripod, so I was shooting in interval (where the camera automatically takes a series of shots without intervention) and in mirror-up. Once you start, it's a pain to stop it, and you can't see the results until the sequence is over, anyway.

The first two batches of shots were not only technically subpar, worse, they were boring. The clouds hadn't moved in. It's difficult to get a moon in an empty sky with any sort of detail of anything else, and it's going to be a boring shot, anyway. Round three had the clouds starting to roll in and I was getting my settings correct. By round four I was pretty sure I had the camera dialed in; I was just waiting for the clouds to cooperate. And then they did.

Why the wonkish colors? The orange is the reflection of streetlights (think the orange glow you can see whilst approaching a city) and the blue is the sky. I am ambivalent about the long exposure time — should I have used a higher ISO, say 400, and reduced the exposure time to ⅓-second — that results in slight cloud blurring here. On the one hand...

I can't really present a "before" image because ACR (the conversion package that translates the raw Nikon NEF into Photoshop) makes some assumptions that aren't easily zeroed out.