Look down to see up

In September during my workshop we had the opportunity to photograph the full moon about a day or so before complete fullness.  What this means is just as the moon comes over the horizon there remains enough sunlight to illuminate the landscape and you don’t get the blown out highlights in the moon.  Most of us were working on a typical moon-over-mountains composition, something like this:

ISO 100, 200mm, 1/15 sec., f/8

Standing next to a small pond I noticed the scene’s reflection in the water but with the addition of grasses on the shore and some vegetation floating on the surface.  I thought it had a nice abstract look to it so I recomposed and make this image:

ISO 100, 200mm, 1/30 sec., f/5

Having everything razor sharp was of less interest to me for this image; I wanted to capture groups of shapes and tones that would define the composition more than simply a picture of the moon.  Reminded me of advice I got from a black-and-white photographer once.  He said as you are composing, look at the scene and squint to the point where all detail is gone and all you see are the blobs of light and dark.  Then compose to where those blobs form an interesting image.  Everything else will usually fall in place to compliment the composition.  It’s a good way to improve seeing for someone who easily gets distracted by the fine details and misses the complete picture!

By the way, reflections usually lose about one stop of light so you’ll have to adjust to keep your exposure when moving from the original scene.  And sometimes you’ll have to manually focus in order to get what you want to be in focus – autofocus sometimes can’t distinguish between the reflected image and something on the surface of the water.  For the second image I opened my aperture to shorten the depth of field and manually focused on the reflected mountain.


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