Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Desert by Moonlight

Yikes!! It's been too long since my last post, again! I've been busy printing some of my photos, matting them, framing them, and selling them at various craft and art fairs in my area. It takes a LOT of work and time. So, it's not like I haven't been doing stuff with my pictures!

On Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011, I went out to take sunset pictures. It was three days before the moon was going to be full, which means that the moon rises about three hours before the sun sets, and will  be at about 3/4 of full. That is plenty of light to take pictures by after the sun has long gone down, which I have done a few times in the past.

So, on this particular Sunday, after the sunset was well over, I decided to stick around and see what kind of results I could get by the moon's light.

Here are three of those images that I really lik. Be sure to click on them to see them larger. The clouds are illuminated by the Phoenix city lights about 50 miles away. Notice in each of the pictures that the clouds become more streaked and smooth in appearance. That is because each of the exposures is longer than in the previous shot, allowing the clouds to move more through out the exposure. That is an effect that I find I really like. The light on the cactus and the desert floor is strictly from the moon.

The first picture is a 30 second exposure taken at f/3.5, ISO 100.

 The second picture is a 5 minute exposure taken at f/6.3, ISO 100.

 The third picture is a 15 minute exposure taken at f/7.1, ISO 100.

In this third shot, I intentionally positioned the North Star in the frame so that all the other stars would rotate around it. In the lower right corner of this shot, you can just see the Superstition Mountains which are about 30 miles to the North of my location.

I typically shoot in JPEG instead of RAW simply because I don't know much about processing the RAW images. One of the things that I need to learn more about on my camera, is the use of the noise reduction filter. I have discovered that when I turn this filter on, the time it takes for the camera to be ready to take the next picture, actually doubles from the length of the exposure. So, for instance, the third picture above took a full 30 minutes after I pressed the shutter button before I could take another picture! When you are just wandering around in the dark desert all by your self, that sure feels like a LONG time! Needless to say, I don't manage to capture very many pictures on such a night. What I need to find out is if the camera still doubles the time to run this filter if I have it store the images in RAW only, and not in JPEG.

After getting home and looking at the images from this night, I got excited at the results. I decided to look back through my Night Sky album on my computer. I realized that I had a lot of pictures that I had not yet uploaded to my on-line album at Picasaweb. So, I am happy to report that I have now uploaded a lot more of those images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Visit me at Facebook.com/ArizonaSunsets to see much more up-to-date reports about what I have been up to!


  1. Beautiful pics Roger ! You do make the desert
    awe-inspiring ! drop in at my blog - http://lesimagesdelinde.blogspot.com/
    I have your photos as my blog's masthead.

  2. Thank you for your kind comment!! And, thanks for visiting. I like your blog, as well!! It is very well done.

  3. Thanks for your post.

    Anthony Zheng Gao
    Canon A495

  4. You are very welcome, Anthony! And, thank YOU for visiting, reading, and commenting!

  5. Thanks for sharing your settings!
    The results are fantastic!
    Arizona is really THE place for stunning shots like these!