Riding Through The Moon

We all know it, right? The weather forecast makes you go shooting, but then for some reason, the reality is very different from what you visualised.

I spent a nice evening by the sea waiting for the clouds and colours to appear on the horizon as someone smart predicted, but nothing has happened. Beautiful cloudless blue skies that all German tourists around me have been enjoying turns into a boring reddish sunset. I don't get disappointed as I still have few more days for my wildest dreams of an ideal stormy-windy-cloudy weather conditions to come true.

So I take few iPhone shots for my Instagram account and looking up the sky full of stars, I listen to DJ Shadow (no true video clip though, but the music is great - just let it play while reading...).

Riding slowly to the hotel, I notice that the gentle fog has been falling low on the nightly landscape. The sky remains clear and a huge moon ball arises. I remembered that two days ago, my Facebook feed has been flooded with images of the red supermoon and here it is, looking like it's calling for a ride through it; as DJ Shadow sings in my car. The fog hides the very most artefacts of the rural landscape of Mecklenburg-Pomerania. What's otherwise a busy tourist place turns into a deserted land lit by an unusual (moon)light.

Walking a grass field, I shoot a test selfie first...

Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 13s, Aperture: f/4, ISO: 400

I found a lone tree that fits better my intention of creating an image of otherworldly night landscape. The central composition that breaks all the rules we know is the most natural and appealing to me - putting the moon and the tree into the golden section looks way too forced, I haven't even tried it.

When reviewing the files later, after downloading to my computer, I regret I did not do a multiple exposure to dim the moon ball a bit, or even to preserve its structure. What's worse, I can't remember if there was any at all but I suppose so. I think it happened because of my old film habits when everything had to be shot onto a single frame. So here we see the result of my lousy efforts - a hardcore digital scene approached by a puristic all-in-one-shot film process. If nothing else, it demonstrates amazing abilities of the chip in my Phase One.

Caption: The Tree That Sleeps Well, Camera: Hasselblad H1, Lens: 35mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 13s, Aperture: f/4, ISO: 400

The difference between the two shots is 6 minutes, the main subject and the number of stars. The latter is the major post-processing adjustment I made to the photo. Having looked at the file at 100%, there have been plenty of stars in the sky that I needed to lighten and boost up. I did it through Select -> Color Range function in Photoshop. To the selection I got via choosing the brightest spot with the Eyedropper, I added everything else that looked like a star manually. The final selection was copied into a separate layer with Screen blending mode. I did not do much other adjustments to the raw file other than tuning the contrast and darkening the edges.

I remain amazed by what today's chip can see and capture in the night skies. This opens up a whole new discipline where no more complicated multi-shot blending is apparently necessary to create a night landscape image with an interesting impact.