Another Moon Picture

This image, with all camera controls on manual, is about 24 hours after the “super moon” maximum.

At the top-right edge of the shadow, you can see the terminator – the dividing “line” between dark and light — starting to creep in now as we are slightly past full moon status. (The mountains and crater walls in that area will be in high relief and one of the more stunning areas to observe in the backyard telescope that are otherwise beyond my little digital camera’s ability to magnify or resolve.)

Between super-moon night and the night after when this new image was taken, I made several significant changes.

  • In the camera, the ISO number (speed of film) is now reduced to 100 from 800. With the (now) old silver halide-based film, that would improve resolution — smaller crystals give better resolution but need more light of which this subject has plenty. But I don’t know if this works the same way with digital technology. Regardless, I decided to try it with that fact about film in mind.
  • From darkest to lightest, the moon is relatively “flat” (low contrast) except in the most extreme areas which are too small to record with any faithfulness. By bracketing exposures, the important “data” is centered in the dark-to-light range. The dark-to-light range will then be brought out, albeit to a slightly unnatural extent, in the editing (below).
  • I was careful with the shutter button to press half way, wait for the camera to autofocus, and then very gently press all the way down to take the exposure. The exposure time, 1/64th of a second, is comparatively long and camera shake was a possibility. In this regard, I was surprised to note that if foreground trees were silhouetted against the sky, the camera would focus on them, not the moon. I therefore had to be sure and keep them out of the image.
  • When editing (in paint.net), I did three things — note that #2 and #3 must be done in that order for best results.
    1. The image is cropped to about 10 percent of the original — at maximum zoom, there was a lot of “space” around the moon that was removed in this step.
    2. The “Levels” were adjusted so that the moon’s darkest areas became “almost black” and the lightest areas became “almost white” in the edited image.
    3. And finally, the “Curve” of “Luminosity” was tweaked with the middle greys moved a tad towards darker while keeping full black and full white where they were from the previous step.
  • Finally, the result was saved with the minimum JPEG compression. The image file is, therefore, relatively big (136 Kb) but, since it represents only a small part of the original, and because there is still a lot of black space (!), it comes out at a very usable size for the web.
  • I elected to leave the image in color even though the camera’s sense of white balance is a tad off. I tried some adjustments but wasn’t happy with any of the results and, unlike yesterday’s “super moon” image, I did not reduce this one to plain black and white because it seems to remove some of the “life” in the image.

The final result, as you can see, is quite good and I am amazed what can be accomplished with a moderately good digital camera, albeit with manual controls override which were essential to this subject, and the built-in zoom lense. Post processing (editing) was also a key part in bringing out the interesting details.

As before, here is the EXIF information recorded in the digital image. (I used http://regex.info/exif.cgi again and hand-trimmed the HTML for relevance.)

Basic Image Information

Camera: Fujifilm FinePix F505EXR
Lens: 66 mm
(Max aperture f/3.5)
Exposure: Manual exposure, 1/64 sec, f/16, ISO 100
Flash: Off, Did not fire
Focus: Auto
Focus point highlight: [ click to hide ]
Date: May 6, 2012   10:24:55PM (timezone not specified)
(9 hours, 6 minutes, 9 seconds ago, assuming image timezone of US Pacific)
File: 538 × 548 JPEG
137,513 bytes (0.13 megabytes)     Image compression: 84%
2% crop of the 4,608 × 3,456 (15.9 megapixel) original

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