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Digital Photography Hacks by Derrick Story

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Night Landscapes and the Moon

The moon is a beautiful but often elusive element for nighttime landscapes. If your previous attempts have resulted in sheer lunacy, take a look at these helpful tips.

Nothing perks up an evening landscape like a rising moon hanging above the horizon. You walk out of the office to go home. It’s dusk and there’s still color in the sky. Then, like magic, the moon appears from behind the clouds. You feel like you can reach out and touch it, just like that. These are the small moments that often stay with us.

Trying to photograph that is another matter. The moon hanging just above the horizon looked so big. But it seems to shrink in size the minute you point a camera lens at it. What was once a compelling evening moonscape photographs as a bunch of clouds with an overexposed dot of light among them.

Don’t despair. By making a few adjustments to how you take the shots and applying a little photographic wizardry, you can bring the moon back to its rightful splendor. But to do so you have to overcome a few common obstacles.

Obstacle 1: The Moon Is Brighter Than Everything Else

If you wait until the sky is completely dark and the moon is high above the horizon, chances are the moon is brighter than everything else in the scene. The trick here is to catch the moon when it’s low and to include other bright things in the composition, as shown in Figure 3-15. When the moon is lower, it shines through more atmosphere than when it is high in the sky. The atmosphere ...

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