Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Articles about miscellaneous subjects

How Large is the Moon in a Photograph?

During the early morning of Saturday, 28 July, 2018, a special celestial event was to occur: a total lunar eclipse, resulting in a red moon — one like this:

Red Moon

Red Moon

I captured this particular red moon on 28 August, 2007.  Incidentally, it was the first and last red moon I captured!

For the most recent total lunar eclipse, I planned to rise early and capture the moon.

Unfortunately, due to cloud, I barely caught a glimpse of it, so no images were forthcoming.

The night before, however, I captured some images of the rising full moon in the early evening.

Now, there are different ways of photographing the moon.

Some people like to place the moon in the context of a broader scene, depicting trees, city architecture, animals or people.

Other people like to capture the moon in and of itself, with a view to depicting as much detail as possible.

I have historically fitted into the latter category, and I have photographed the moon numerous times with it being the only subject.

Naturally, when using only DSLR equipment and no telescopes or other space observation equipment, I like to use the longest focal length possible so that the moon in all its glory is more prominent, and therefore larger in dimension.

The maximum focal length I can achieve is 1,120mm by attaching both a 2x tele-converter and a 1.4x tele-converter to my 400mm lens.

People often wonder which focal lengths to use for capturing the moon.

Which focal length to use depends on the kind of image desired.  In my case, I want as long a focal length as possible.

Once a focal length has been decided, the next question is as follows:

How large will the moon appear in my image?

The answer is that it depends on several factors; namely:

  1. the focal length;
  2. whether the camera is a full-frame, APS-C or APS-H model (the latter two of which crop the view a full-frame lens natively provides on a full-frame camera); and
  3. the distance between the moon and the earth.

The short answer is that the moon is not very large relative to the frame.

If an APS-C camera is used, there is a distinct advantage, as the moon will appear larger relative to the frame than it would when captured with a full-frame camera.

In my case, I have only full-frame DSLR cameras.

Today I decided to explore and compare the size of the moon relative to my camera’s frame size, when shot at different focal lengths.

The night before the total lunar eclipse, I went outside to capture some test images.  I happened to capture images at both 1,120mm and 800mm.

Both focal lengths are considered extreme super-telephoto focal lengths in the DSLR world, but there is a surprising difference between them.

In both cases, the moon is not very large, relative to the frame.

I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which produces a native image size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px).

Let us take a look at how many times the moon can fit into that frame size when captured at the two focal lengths I used.

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 1,120mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27 July, 2018 at 17:50, using a focal length of 1,120mm.

The moon, when captured at 1,120mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,751 x 1,741px (3,048,491px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 10.1% of the frame.

Equipment used:

This is an image measuring 6,720 x 4,480px (the exact image dimensions a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV produces), depicting the size of a full moon relative to the size of the frame.

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

Moon Captured with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at 800mm

The full moon was captured in Sydney on 27/07/2018 at 17:54:19, using a focal length of 800mm.

The moon, when captured at 800mm at this particular time, measures approximately 1,267 x 1,258px (1,593,886px).

With a frame size of 6,720 x 4,480px (30,105,600px), this means that the moon occupies approximately 5.3% of the frame.

Equipment used:

As can be seen, despite using long focal lengths on a full-frame DSLR, the moon is still relatively small within the frame.

Here are those key figures again:

In this case, the size of the moon nearly doubled with the use of a longer focal length, despite that focal length not being twice the size of the shorter focal length.

It is not quite an exact science, particularly when considering that the image shot with the 800mm focal length was captured just over four minutes later, by which time the moon had risen marginally higher; but it is a substantial difference.

In both cases, while the moon does not dominate the frame, it is certainly large enough to show very pleasing details.

Photographers desiring even more prominence and detail would be likely to attach the camera to a telescope, but if, like myself, a photographer does not have a telescope, but does have long focal lengths, a very pleasing result is certainly possible.

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Guest Speaker at a Camera Club v3.0

Last year, a good friend of mine, who runs a growing camera club, asked me if I would return for the third occasion as a guest speaker.

I had the honour and privilege of presenting an audio-visual show and talk about light and composition in September of 2017, and in February of 2016, I presented some images and spoke about wildlife photography and our adventures in South Africa and Kenya.

This time, I decided to focus my presentation on seascape photography, which has been one of my major photographic pursuits for over a decade now.

During my time off work over the Christmas and new year period, I re-visited a seascape presentation I had delivered at another camera club in 2010, and revised the content.  I also created a new AV presentation of my favourite and most compelling seascape images, as I had produced my best work after 2010.

My presentation will provide an introduction to this popular form of photography, and will cover topics such as when, where and why to shoot seascapes, considerations such as weather, tides and safety (it can sometimes be a dangerous pursuit); equipment (both photographic and non-photographic), more detail about filters; techniques such as composition, focusing and exposure; and how to capture the image.

There will also be a small show-and-tell, where people can have a look at the equipment I use for my seascape photography.

I was also asked to provide short critiques of the members’ photos produced for the club’s monthly challenge, so I am looking forward to seeing what the members have been shooting, and giving them some good, constructive critique to help them with their journey.

Guest Speaker at Photography Club

A few months ago, a good friend of mine, who I had met years ago in the camera club scene, and who now runs a small but rapidly growing photography club, invited me back to his club as a guest speaker to deliver a presentation at the September meeting.

Last year I had presented at the same club, and I delivered an audio-visual show and talk about wildlife photography.

This time, the theme I chose was light and composition, and I titled my presentation and talk A Perfectionist’s Guide to Light and Composition.

I am a very fussy photographer, and I fuss about light and composition in particular, so it made for an excellent subject which I thought would provide good value to the club’s members, many of whom are relatively new to photography.

We are now living in a digital age, and the proliferation of digital cameras has put cameras into the hands of many people who would never bother to own a camera if the medium was still film.

Additionally, technology, both in terms of cameras and generally, has progressed at a rapid rate.  The unfortunate side-effect of this digital ‘explosion’ is that many people who get into photography worry more about gear and technology than the basics of good photography.

For my presentation, I wanted to focus (so to speak) on the basics, and examine in words and pictures some of the crucial building blocks of great images.

My presentation started with a audio-visual slideshow of a wide variety of my best images from the seven types of subject matter upon which my photography is based.

I then proceeded to provide an introduction to light, talking about what is light, and the properties and effects of different types of lighting.  Along with this, I presented different images which highlighted both good light and ‘bad’ light, and I showed examples of how flat light looks, compared to the more dramatic and engaging side lighting.

My next topic was composition.  For this topic, I went into the ‘rules’ of composition, but rather than calling them ‘rules’, I called them ‘principles’, and explained the main principles of composition, why they work, and why one could or should break the rules in some circumstances.

Along with the key points about effective composition, I again provided numerous photographic examples, and pointed out that many of my images use several principles of composition rather than just one.

The club’s members and guests asked me questions from time to time, and some of the questions raised brought up closely related topics which my presentation did not originally address, so thanks to those members and guests, I was able to provide more information which would help them in their pursuits.

All in all, it was a great night, and I am pleased that I had the opportunity to share my images and knowledge, and help newer photographers think about, and put into practice, the fundamentals of light and composition.

Fortunately there was very little focus on gear, and no questions about “What did you use to capture that?”, to which my answer might have been “light, composition, and a camera”.

To my delight, I have been asked back to the club to deliver another presentation early next year, so I look forward to engaging more with the club’s members to help them along their photographic journeys.

Writing for Australian Photography Magazine

As I related in my previous update, I was fortunate to have one of my seascape images selected for the September, 2011 cover of Australian Photography magazine.

What I did not mention is that there was something else in the making with regard to the magazine.

One day in August I received a call from editor Robert Keeley regarding my cover image submissions.  Later in the afternoon he called again, and I presumed it was about the status of my cover image, but he needed to discuss something else altogether.

On his desk were prints of two of my images I had weeks earlier submitted to the magazine for its regular photography competition.  He was impressed with the images, but one of them really grabbed his attention.  He told me that he saw a story in my image, and asked me if I would consider writing a feature article for the magazine on the type of photography I had been practising.

That was an unexpected but pleasant surprise!

The catch was that my image could not be entered into the competition if it were to form part of a feature article.  I was told to give it some thought and let him know which path I wanted to take.

Competitions are a dime a dozen, but the invitation to write an article is not something that comes along very often, if at all.  Freelance writing for photography magazines is something I had never even considered.

A few days later I called Robert and gave him my decision.  At this stage there was no rush to complete the article.  However, a week or two later, I received another call.  Through circumstance, he needed my article sooner than expected, so I needed to quickly commence writing.  I sent him ten images relating to my article’s subject, and he expressed interest in eight of them and asked me to write about them.

He ran me through the motions and requirements and provided me with the editorial guidelines.  He was keen for me to make sure I got it right so that he could easily run the story.  The man is insanely busy and the process of putting the magazine together is even more frantic and insane.  Contributors need to get it right to make the process easier for the editor, or else being left on the editing room floor is a very likely outcome.

This week, I commenced working on my article, and submitted my first draft.

Today I received a call from the editor, and to my shock I was told that the article was 90% of the way there in terms of suitability.  There are a few minor changes to make, and some other formalities to handle, but after the time I spent on my article this week, and my associated worry over the draft article’s suitability to his and the magazine’s requirements, I was relieved that I had reached this point without needing to do any major re-work.

My article is to appear in the November issue of the magazine.

What I can say about this journey, apart from it being quite a privilege and new experience, is that writing for a magazine is very difficult, as space is extremely limited.  My writing style is fairly liberal, but unfortunately the world of print-based feature article writing does not permit the sort of latitude I would like; it is far removed from blogs and Internet forums.

Condensing my article’s content and trimming details upon which I would prefer to have elaborated was not an easy task, and I expected that my content would be ruthlessly edited.  Of course, it is still subject to editing before it finds its way onto paper!

I will post an update once the magazine has been published.

A New Sense of Direction

For the past few months I had been very much disconnected from photography.

I was not shooting; I was not meeting with like-minded people; and I was not reading or posting much.

Last year I did gain some inspiration, and very recently (only this week) was inspired by the HDR images of one of the members of a photographic forum I frequent.

Consequently I started experimenting with HDR imaging this week, and have had some very pleasing results so far.

After a few shoots and some pleasing imagery, I am convinced I have rediscovered my photographic mojo.  I never felt I lost it; it was just pushed aside for a while, and I knew I would get back into it; it was just a matter of when rather than if.

In the process of so doing, I have found that I have moved away from my usual subject matter of dawn seascapes and portraits of models.

I have a new direction, and my photographic work this year will consist of photographing scenes of Sydney during evening twilight, as well as capturing some of the city’s splendid interiors and producing HDR images along the lines of my recent work.

The project is called Blue Sydney.

For now, I am parking seascapes and models.  I have found that I just do not have a strong drive in those areas at the moment, and frankly, over the past three years I have shot a lot of dawn seascapes and plenty of models.  I am not saying goodbye to these subjects altogether, but they will definitely take a back seat to what is currently driving me.

I cannot force myself in a particular direction; I have to wait as long as it takes until something taps me on the shoulder and really makes me take notice.  The new imagery I have created, and am in the process of creating, as well as the broader theme behind it, has done precisely that.  I will go with it until it is time for a change of scenery.

It is a new year, and there is some new photographic direction.  Bring it on.

Annie Leibovitz at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Tomorrow we are heading into town to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

It is a good opportunity to see the work of this famous photographer, and is priced quite affordably.

Afterwards we may toodle over to the Powerhouse Museum for the 1980s exhibition.  It is slightly frightening that we are at a point now whereby the 1980s can be considered nostalgic!

Temporary Hiatus

Of late I have found that I have not had much inspiration for, or interest in, photography.

I have not shot much, I have not published much, and I have not written much, either here or on a photography forum I frequent.

I am not feeling inspired to even read the forum or some unread photography magazines that have been sitting unread for many weeks, and I have not been to my camera club for over two months.

I suspect it is a combination of several factors:

  1. it is that time of year when I find myself very tired and in need of a rest;
  2. the fact that I have had and continue to have a fair amount going on both personally and work-wise; and
  3. a lack of recent ‘wow-factor’ images that inspire me to shoot more.

It is probably just a phase that will pass with time.