Disclaimer: I’m a newbie at shooting the moon and an amateur photographer at best. This blog post just details my experience and learning curve on my first ever proper moon shoot recently.
I seen something online about the next full moon and since I’d just purchased a second hand telephoto lens for my Canon EOS 500D, I though I’d mark the date in my diary and try get some decent moon shots for once.
Step 1 – Find out when and where the next full moon is
I’d found out the date of the next full moon no problem but I’d gone as far as setting up my tripod and camera on the balcony out the back of my apartment before I realised that I didn’t know what time exactly the moon would appear and in what exact position. I remembered roughly having seen the moon out the back before so I knew it was in that general direction after dark but because I had a small viewing angle with trees and stuff, I needed to know precisely where the moon would be at a particular time. I used this website below to give me all the details I needed on moon positions for my location:
I’d found out that the moon was going to be in just the right position to shoot at about 1:45am so I setup everything I needed before I went to bed that night and set an alarm. Here’s what I used:
Canon EOS 500D (A camera is handy!)
75 – 300mm Telephoto Lens (Not quite powerful enough for Pro moon shots but way better than a normal lens)
Tripod (Impossible without)
Wireless Hot Shoe Remote control set (You can’t be shaky at high zooms! The camera’s timer or a remote phone app will do here too though..)
Candles (As little light as possible in the immediate vicinity)
A Smartphone (To shine on your camera buttons and google “moon camera settings”!)
Step 3 – Shoot, Shoot, Shoot..
I ended up with 35 RAW images of the moon but deleted many more directly from the camera after checking the results in the camera LCD. The trick is to take a pile of shots, starting out with the generally accepted camera settings for photographing the moon, then varying things like Shutter Speed and Aperture to get different results. You really have to go full manual too as letting the camera try decide on the best settings for something that far away just doesn’t work.
In the end, the following settings seemed to work best for me:
Full Manual Mode
Shutter Speed: 1/125
Step 4 – Review
Getting the photos onto the computer and reviewing them is the fun bit. Sorting through to find that one photo (hopefully!) that stands out above the rest. Shooting in RAW allows some good control over editing your best images to enhance the results a little too.
Here’s my gallery of the shoot with the best shot I achieved:
I have Google alerts set to alert me whenever Mohill or Leitrim is in the news and one came in last week for old photos of Mohill Railway station for sale on eBay by an Australian seller of all things! The auctions were fairly high quality old photos from about 1950 looking from both ends of Mohill at the old railway station. All photos were from about the 1950s.
I loaded them on my phone and went out one fine day (it’s only around the corner from where I live) to take some modern day photos from as close to the old photo angles as possible.
I went back to the office and loaded each set of then and now photos in Photoshop and aligned them best I could before masking out certain sections to merge then and now versions in some meaningful way. Finally I added some adjustment layers above everything to improve levels, colour and contrast..
I googled for some cool Photoshop face mashups of John Lennon & Paul McCartney just for the crack but there didn’t seem to be any. Maybe there’s some unwritten law against doing it or something!? So basically I done my own for practice..
I found the best, hi-res facial portraits from roughly the same angle I could find in Google. There were many more of Lennon than McCartney!?
The Lennon one was much better quality so when I brought them both into photoshop I actually added some noise/grain to the Lennon photo to make it match McCartney better after which I added a couple of master Hue/Saturation adjustment layers to bring everything down to grayscale and control tones.
The first step was to rotate and align McCartney on top of Lennon precisely, matching eye, nose and mouth positions and using the layer opacity slider for guidance. Once that was done I added a layer mask to McCartney and fairly roughly masked out all but his eyes, nose and mouth using a very soft brush.
I very carefully cut out Lennon’s glasses and pasted them on a new layer on top of McCartney’s face, masking out the glass part and adding a light grey color to the glass area which I made very transparent.
I manually added some shadow using a soft black brush behind the glasses on the bridge of the nose and top of the cheeks, matching the shadow type of the original Lennon photo.
I duplicated the McCartney layer and masked out everything but the eye sockets and eyes and then applied a Liquify – Pucker filter to make the eyes look a little distorted through the glass as in the Lennon photo.
I added some glare on the left eye glass and tidied up the merge by adding some shadows and darkening/brightening some facial areas as well as messing with levels on both photos to match up better.
I added master Levels and Photo Filter adjustment layers to unify the tone as well as a retro font with the title of the work.
A few days ago a friend on Facebook shared a fascinating collection of color photos taken in 1913 by Mervyn O’ Gorman of his daughter Christina using “Autochrome Lumière”, the main color photographic process of the time which involved using glass plates and dyed potato starch! The photos were taken near where I was born 62 years later in Dorset..
I stared at the photos for ages trying to take in the fact that they were taken so long ago, before the first world war, just after the Titanic sunk and about when my grandparents were born. Realising that the girl and photographer are probably long dead, these were brilliant, full color freeze frames of moments of their lives over 100 years ago.
What struck me most about the photos was that although they were taken 102 years ago, they looked as though they could have been taken yesterday, Particularly the one below!?:
So naturally, me being me, the thing to do was Photoshop some modern items into one of the photos! I chose this one below because of the space in the sea to place an object in and also the direction of Christina’s gaze which suggested she was looking at something on the beach:
I decided to place a luxury giant Cruise Ship on the sea and a Laptop on the beach. Obvious choices for me and the 21st century! What made the integration a little easier at least with the cruise ship was that, due to the photographic process involved which necessitated a large aperture and narrow depth of field, the background was mostly blurred so I just blurred the ship and added some noise to it, avoiding having to cut the edges out in great detail.
I added a Sony Vaio laptop in Christina’s eyeline and added a little less blur and noise to it as well as shadows underneath to help it sit in the stones better. I also added a slight Vignette and Sepia photo filter to make it look older. The result is below:
For anyone in or around Leitrim who’d like to learn the basics of using Photoshop whether it be for personal/hobby use or to improve job prospects etc, I may be hireable under Leitrim LEO’s mentoring program on which I’ve provided mentoring for years now. I can also quote for mentoring outside of that too though.
I’ve found over the years that there’s a major lack of real world Photoshop or general advanced software training in Northwest Ireland. All you ever see is social media, start your own business, taxation, etc training. The kind of stuff most people should easily pickup themselves these days. What about people already established in their businesses and looking to move to the next level in certain areas?
The kind of people who would typically benefit from Photoshop training are:
I’ve been using Photoshop since about 2003 for personal and business use and have recently gained Adobe Expert status. I can mentor/teach basic use and some advanced techniques such as: Photo Restoration, Photo Editing, Photo Colorisation and more.
PS – I’m hoping to run a 2 day Photoshop training workshop in Carrick-on-Shannon early in 2015 so sign up for my newsletter to keep updated about this. I am also hoping to have an online Photoshop course as well.
I’m pleased to announce that despite never having attached much weight or significance to qualifications, certifications, exams or courses, preferring instead to learn whatever I specifically needed to know and only when I needed to know it, I have now become officially certified by Adobe in their latest version of Photoshop, CC! The reasoning behind it was that after 12 years of using Photoshop, I thought maybe it was the right time to get some kind of recognition and have something more to show! Also, I hope to use the certification to get more Photoshop work and maybe start to offer some training courses or one to one mentoring so get in touch if that’s what you need.
I thought I’d sail the exam having used Photoshop for so many years now but the exam was pretty hard and required a fair bit of preparation including taking a few online refresher courses, watching a pile of videos and taking some mock exams online in the weeks leading up to the exam in Dublin’s Exam Centre.