Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Night Photography: Photographing The Moon In The Landscape

by: David Rose

Photographers have been trying to utilize the light of the moon in their landscape photography ever since the photographic process was invented. It was not until World War II, however, that technology had improved enough to make night photography possible.

Today, despite technological advances, knowing the phase of the moon during a nighttime photography shoot is important as it will affect everything from the type of equipment that you'll need to the actual composition of your photos.

When embarking on a night photography trip, there are standard types of equipment that you will need to take with you.

  • A 35mm camera that will allow you to manually set very long exposure times is a must
  • A good, sturdy tripod is mandatory
  • A cable release
  • A good carrying case or a vest with a lot of pockets for your equipment
  • Extra batteries for your camera
  • Many rolls of slow or medium film (60 or 100 ISA—NEVER use 400 ISA even if it’s what happens to be in your camera. Your photos will turn out much too grainy to be useful).
  • Lenses with which you are already comfortable
  • A stopwatch rather than a wristwatch to record exposure lengths is preferable. Stopwatches are more accurate and will give you more reliable information for future moon photography shoots.
  • A notebook and several pens for recording exposure times and other important information
  • A flashlight so that you can easily record your information

Remember that if this is your first attempt at night photography by moonlight, you will largely spend your time experimenting. The resulting photographs and your records will help you plan your next venture more effectively.

The best times for landscape photography without additional light sources, or looking at it in a different manner, away from city lights, is either when the moon is full, the two days before the full moon and the two days after the full moon. Any clouds in the sky will also affect the amount of light available for your night photography, just as they would if you were shooting during the day.

You will have to experiment with your exposure times as so many elements will affect the outcome. The degree of available moonlight; any other light sources; clouds; rain; light reflective surfaces; each of them can make a huge difference to the amount of exposure time needed.

In general, during night photography, one can say that on a night of full moon, with optimum conditions, 8 seconds at f/8 using ISO 100 film will be about right. If there’s a crescent moon and conditions are also optimal, you’ll need as much as 10 hours on one shot! So you see, experimentation while photographing the moon is really the only way to go.

Repeat your shots with different exposure lengths so that you can get a feel for what your camera will do for you.

A very nice composition for a moonscape might include the moon with beams bouncing off of a river, stream or creek.

As the moon moves through its different phases, you can still enjoy landscape photography at night although you may have to bring some "extras" and move locations.

Different moonscape compositions to experiment with during your moonlight photography shoot include:

  • A waxing crescent, or a small portion of the moon, hanging in the sky over sparkling city lights.
  • Bring a flash or a flash unit to your moon photography shoot in order to illuminate an abandoned house, use colored gels to get different color effects and have a muted last quarter moon lurking in the background.
  • As the moon goes from full to new, you can play with light effects from the stars or allow car lights to streak through your composition.

When photographing the moon, be sure to record not only the length of time that you exposed your film, but also general weather conditions and what phase the moon was in. This will help you to produce better photos in the future.

Night photography becomes easier when you're able to plan properly so knowing how much natural light is likely to be available will help you pick the right time to go out and what kind of equipment to take.

Nighttime landscape photography is a creative, rewarding challenge that every keen photographer should try.

About The Author

David Rose is a nature photographer and creator of the popular moon software, QuickPhase Pro, the fun and easy way to view the phases of the moon. To learn more, visit http://www.quickphase.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Capture Perfect Digital Sports and Action Shots

By Yvonne Grubb

What gets you all excited about your favourite sport? ... the thrill of the chase in horse racing or maybe the atmosphere and tension of a ball game, maybe your favourite player? ... Well if you were to capture some of these scenes how would you do it best? For some digital photography tips, let's take a look at a few ideas right now to capture that realism ...

Get Familiar

It's worth getting familiar with the sport before you start shooting, for example, how points are scored, what causes penalties etc, as this will give you an advantage over others ... you will learn to expect where the best action is likely to be, and you can then capture those glorious moments.

Another great tip, as well as aiming to catch the action, capture the 'emotion' too. Be ready to shoot players' faces on triumph of a goal, or any other emotive action in the game and you will bring your photos alive!

Be Prepared

Cold and bad weather conditions can quickly rob the life of your digital camera's battery, so it's important to always carry an extra charged battery especially for outdoor sports.

Action Techniques

Stop Action ... you'll very quickly be able to shoot an action shot and 'freeze' your subject practically in mid air. Imagine the wheels of a drag car on a dirt road, bouncing off the many bumps ... for those few seconds while the car is in mid air, snap away to capture the action.

Lighting is not too much of an issue if you're outside on a sunny or partially sunny day say at a car race, dog track, or horse race etc, but you'll maybe need to make adjustments if you're inside a gymnasium shooting a basketball game, for example. If the lighting is bright, then you'll probably be okay, but depending on the type of lighting, you may need to activate your fill flash if you shoot players in action and you find your photo colorizations shifting to 'yellow'.

Also bear in mind the distance, as your flash will not carry too far ... it might be worth sitting near the basket hoop to catch the action!

Blurred Action ... a couple of ideas behind blurred action is, firstly ... if you look back at your photos you have taken using Stop Action, you may find one or two shots that did not freeze the action, which means your camera did not catch the action at the right moment ... so you end up with an interestingly blurry effect to your subject.

Secondly, if you're shooting a ball game, for example, you may get blurring if your player moves just as you click your shutter. If you did not intend for this to happen, you might be pleasantly surprised with the effect!

Panned Action ... the most difficult to accomplish, but probably the most effective shooting technique, once mastered. The advantage using your digital camera is that you can delete unwanted frames and start again, so here's how panning basically works...

Using your digital camera in automatic mode press the shutter half way down to focus on your subject, moving your camera sideways following the action, then pressing the shutter fully while still moving your camera. The effect created is the front of your subject should remain in fairly strong focus, while the back of your subject should start to blur, and as it blurs a long trail should appear, giving a feeling of movement like no other effect could possibly achieve.


By knowing what your digital camera can do, experiment with different methods to get the best shots. You could try shooting in continuous mode, then try panning the camera along with your subject, whilst he/she or it is in motion.

I hope these digital photography tips are helpful. If you can get to grips with panning, as I have described above, you're on a winner!

Yvonne owns Digital Photo Tutorial which offers people information on digital photography tips

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Yvonne_Grubb

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