Fun Photography: On the Way to the Harvest Moon

Manned exploration to the moon ceased before I was born in 1980. Now in my 30s, I am fascinated with the history, grandeur and intrigue of the space program (yes, I stayed up till 2 am watching Curiosity land on Mars). I’ve also stayed up till 2 am taking photos of the moon or capturing star trails. I think it’s pretty obvious that when I can combine space and photography, it’s gonna be another late night.

Beyond just sharing the photos, I thought I would include information about how I set up and took the photo, so if someone else wants to re-create it, they have a good starting point. I am also including this How-To write to the DIY Photography’s How I Took It contest.

After a quick trip to Home Depot, I had all the supplies I needed, and it didn’t cost more than $15. The items included three 10′ PVC pipes and some connectors, along with the ever popular black Duct Tape. In my backyard, I hooked two of the pipes together using a straight connector. However, when I lifted it into the air, it would bend way too far. Using duct tape, I attached the third pipe across the joint of the first two. This provided the support I needed.

I didn’t want to have to fight with the objects spinning while I shot my photos, so before I attached the third pipe, I had cut three 8″ pieces and configured the setup seen in the photo to the left. Using thread, I hooked one end to the model and the other to the pipe (I cut a small notch in the pipe so the string wouldn’t slip off as easily). I then hoisted the contraption into the air and duct taped the bottom part to the trampoline leg, and used rope to hook the upper part of the pipes to the sturdy pole on the trampoline netting.

Now I just had to wait for the full moon (the Harvest Moon) to get out from behind the neighbor’s tree, and then position the model near the moon. I set the camera on the tripod and framed the shot I was looking for. I had to constantly keep adjusting the shot, because the moon kept moving across the sky. In manual mode, I set the aperture to f/25 so I had the largest depth of field possible (although it still wasn’t enough to have both elements – the moon and the model – in focus).

Using the wireless shutter-release function, I warmed up my Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash and put it in wireless mode. After I got into position on the step-stool (to help me get closer to the model with the flash in hand), I held the flash in position and triggered the shutter. Since only one of the two objects (the moon or the model) could be in focus at any one time (see sample on the left), I had to change the focal point for each photo, then combine the two photos in Photoshop later.

Here are the two final photos along with the specific camera settings for each photo, and any post-processing in Photoshop.

092912 On the way to the Moon

MOON Canon 60D | 55-200mm lens | 1/25 | f/25 | ISO 100 | Converted to BW
MODEL Canon 60D | 55-200mm lens | 1/25 | f/25 | ISO 100 | Canon Speedlite 430EX II | RAW – Adjusted exposure and levels, erased out-of-focus moon, cropped closer

092912 Saturn V toward the Moon

MOON Canon 60D | 55-200mm lens | 1/25 | f/25 | ISO 100 | Converted to BW
MODEL Canon 60D | 55-200mm lens | 1/25 | f/25 | ISO 100 | Canon Speedlite 430EX II | Adjusted levels, erased out-of-focus moon, cropped closer

I have another shot I am working to capture, but it will take a little more planning and play to get it to work the way I’m envisioning it. Stay tuned, and I hope you enjoy this little bit of trick photography.

~signed, Carltonaut

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