Ħamrija Tower Moonrise

Ħamrija Tower Moonrise (6008+6011)
Ħamrija Tower Moonrise. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Over the last couple weeks I managed to catch up a bit with my photography. Mostly this had to do with our visit to Heraklion, and the photos that visit generated. Thankfully, though, it’s not just that. With how hot it’s been over here I haven’t had much enthusiasm for climbing (or archery for that matter) so I took things more easily than usual. This meant I got to process a few photos, and also finished framing the prints from our time in England.

But before I start sharing photos from Heraklion, I thought I’d start with these two from a couple days ago. I had been planning this shot for a while – several months in fact – and originally intended to do this a month ago. When that didn’t work out, I shifted things by a month and invited my brother (who I knew would be visiting) to join me. So after a quick swim at Lapsi we headed out towards the point of view I had in mind, where I set up my tripod and camera and the wait began.

I learned a few years ago that with night-time shots it’s worth taking a few identically framed photos as twilight progresses, to have some choice when compositing. In this case it was particularly important as I misjudged how dark it would be by the time the moon rose. This kind of photography takes a lot of experimentation, and the wait between tries can be rather long. In retrospect, I should have planned this for the night before, which also coincided with the lunar eclipse.

In any case, you can see here two variants of the same photo. The top, which I prefer, is a composite of two photos, one exposed earlier for the tower and cliffs, and another for the moon itself. The photo below is the same single exposure used for the moon above. I wonder which one my readers prefer. It’s worth pointing out that (in both cases) the moon has not been artificially enlarged with software; the size is simply due to the use of an extreme telephoto lens at 600mm.

Ħamrija Tower Moonrise (6011)
Ħamrija Tower Moonrise. (Click on the photo for added detail.)

Now for some technical notes. For this first attempt I opted not to use the 1.4x teleconverter I also have, just to make things a bit easier. Working at these focal lengths is very technically demanding, and the teleconverter would just magnify any motion blur, and in my case make it impossible to use auto-focus. Manual focus is rather tricky on these lenses, simply because the (magnified) live view would be moving too much while manually adjusting the focus ring. The darkess doesn’t help either. I also had to disable the image stabiliser, as it was causing motion blur. I don’t normally bother, leaving IS on even when shooting from a tripod, as it usually makes no difference. On this lens + tripod combination, however, it did. I also took these photos with live view activated, to avoid the vibrations caused by the mirror mechanism. I was using my smaller tripod, the one I tend to carry around on walks etc. This is fine enough for most work, and is very convenient, being both light and compact. With this (heavy) lens, though, it’s barely sufficient. Next time I think I’ll just take its bigger brother.

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2 comments

  1. Immersive and brilliant, both of them. I prefer the composite for the details on the cliffs, but the single exposure for the soft redder glow in the background (the colour gradient feels more natural compared to the moon). But if I were forced to pick one, I’d go with the single exposure.

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! It seems our thoughts about the photos are very similar. I was tempted to let the single exposure go, but there’s something about it I still find attractive. Perhaps it’s the colours; perhaps it’s just me knowing it’s more ‘true’.

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