Shoot a Moonlit Nightscape - CH Photogs - Capture Life

Shoot a Moonlit Nightscape

As night starts to roll in a little earlier at this time of year, you might think your scope for shooting landscapes is smaller, but actually you've more opportunity than ever. It's not just the vibrant sunsets that set the skies on fire at a polite hour, but the moon is an amazing light source and tends to be incredibly bright at this time of year, meaning that you can shoot right through the golden hour and far beyond.

Planning your moonlit landscape shoot should start with ascertaining when the next full moon will be. While you don't need a full moon to capture beautiful images, you have two to three days either side of the full moon when the light is optimal. When assessing the conditions, too, don't be dissuaded by a cloudy sky.

As long as the clouds can add motion and complement your composition. Before you embark on your night of shooting, make sure you pack a torch or head torch and wrap up warm, comfortable clothing - you may not need it for sunset, but you'll certainly need it by water's edge by the night time arrives.

1 - Compose your Shot

It can be difficult to compose a landscape at night when looking through the viewfinder, or even using the LiveView. If you arrive after dark, set up your camera on a tripod and with the ISO rating at ISO 6400, take a test shot to see how your composition looks and then adjust its position as necessary. Once you're ready, remember to lower your ISO to between ISO 800-1600.

2 - Set the Exposure

An aperture of f/5.6 to f/8 is about right for this type of landscape and you don't want your exposure to be slower than 30 seconds, otherwise you'll start to introduce movement in the stars. Work in manual mode and focus a third in to your frame, or use hyperfocal distance, to maximize depth-of-field.

3 - Balance the Exposure

It is surprising how bright the moon can be, making night-time shots a lot easier to achieve than you might think. Another option to try is to bracket your shots, as in this example bracketing to capture enough detail and then later on blend the exposures together in post production.  

Article from the Digital SLR Photography Magazine - Helen Dixon

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