Foto del Dia: 23/365 Hangover Moon

Not what ya thought is it?

The properly exposed moon at 1/250 @ f/4. However, the city lights were too dim to be caught by the camera's sensor. The yellowish hue is from the moon being just above the horizon and Denver smog.

This was a good lesson for me in exposure. The dim city lights below a waning gibbous moon. The f/stop range was above 5. Well beyond what could be captured by my camera’s sensor.

Another way to put it, the moon was freaking bright and the city lights super dim. A challenging situation in exposure. But, a good exposure can be achieved.

Most cameras today have an ADR setting: Automatic Dynamic Range. However, through experience, I have been disappointed with the results. The photo always seemed to be lacking contrast and a bit under-saturated.

But I think the best way is to use a Graduated Neutral Density filter. One that will get the moon and the city lights within a reasonable dynamic range. Get your exposure

And what would the one filter that I would be lacking? Yep.

The Moon rises over the plains of Colorado on Sunday Jan. 23, 2011, as seen from Monument, Colo.. Lots of adjustments on this which could've been simplified using a Graduated ND filter.

So what you see is the result of a little bit of Photoshop magic:

1. Pre-burning and pre-dodging

2. An exposure layer

3. Erasing some of the unneccessary exposure layer

4. A curves layer.

Not what I wanted, and a minor failure.

But definitely a lesson in extreme exposure differences.

Truthfully, I’m just not happy with the end result.

Now where’s the nearest camera store?


  1. i just tried the upside down ND grad when shooting fireworks last week. it worked really well, i blocked out town with the filter and on most of the shots never really got overexposed. i got them at i think i have the hitech filters, not super quality but i didnt get any crazy flares when shooting at night with them and they have lasted for years now. very neutral grey as well.


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