Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shooting the moon

It's the night of the August full moon - the "Full Sturgeon Moon" - and I'm set to experiment with my digital camera. This first shot (below) was taken as the moon appeared above the corn to our east. You can see the old Shell farm - or at least the barn roof and part of a power pole - over on Venus Road, about half a mile away. In the foreground is a pine and catalpa in our front yard.

Punching a little more telephoto into the picture and the moon grows a bit larger. For those interested in the technicalities of this 8:45 p.m. picture (08/16), I used an ISO 200 film speed, f/3.51 and the telephoto was set to 49.6 mm.

So I pull the moon in even closer, cut the exposure time down a little and the moon takes on its natural orange glow while so near to the horizon. With less exposure, the moon itself shows some details on the surface.

Finally, when the moon has risen clear of the trees, I went back outside at about 9:20 p.m. after the sky had grown dark and I shot a series of pictures. Here the moon appears in its nighttime white and shines brilliantly in the crystal clear sky. This shot is also ISO 200 but I used f/3.51 and a faster 1/159 second exposure. I have the camera pushed out to a full 72 mm optical zoom and have added a little digital zoom, too (I'd be better doing that on the computer). The mares show clearly as this amount of zoom and the view closely duplicates what I'd regularly see with my childhood telescope.

I remember bringing that telescope home after spending much of my allowance on it at Malone's Camera in Kettering, Ohio. I even applied a coat of paste wax to the barrel. I then had my grandmother sew a white cotton bag to store the scope in (the bag was made out of an old sheet). Now we can duplicate the views with a fairly inexpensive camera.

The camera, by the way, is a Canon PowerShot S2 IS, as easy to use a camera as I've ever owned. I enjoy the flexibility: an automatic mode when I want it quick and dirty and a range of manual modes where I can make my own settings. I paid just $99 on eBay for a camera that retailed at about $500 new. A camera is like a car: buy it used if you want to save a lot of money. The "mileage" won't matter if someone took care of it.