In the image above, I exposed for the people on the walkway (taken at the Fullerton Train Station). A bit underexposed purposefully so the moon didn't wash things out too much. The moon, unfortunately, turns into a bright light with no definition. This is very different from what my "eyes" saw at the time. It was a beautiful moonrise and I could clearly see all the detail in the moon. Did I mention moon photography can be frustrating?
Without moving my camera (it was on a tripod), I adjusted the exposure for the moon. A much faster exposure which resulted in a totally dark background but good moon detail. I superimposed the moon over the first image to get the best of both worlds (background + moon detail). Often referred to as a "composite" image, it's kind of cheating. But it truly looks much closer to what I saw with my eye as I was taking the photo.
Whew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest! I think as photographers we struggle with how and when (and how much) to edit. And that's especially true with moon shots. So let me say that with very few exceptions, when you see a moon shot with good moon detail and definition, and you see good background detail, you are very likely seeing a composite or otherwise edited image. The photographer may or may not disclose this. With today's camera technology, you can't have it both ways... you need to either expose on the moon or the background, one at the expense of the other. Other options are to use bracketing (which puts you back into composite images), spot adjustment to reduce the moon brightness (works so so) or perhaps flash fill or light painting for long exposures.
So with that being said, read on, but know that most of these are composite images!
Nope, not a composite. No background to worry about here!
Yes, definitely. I was really focusing on the people walking on the bridge and admiring the moonrise. The freight train came along at just the right time, and the exposure was long enough to capture some blur!
It's obvious, right? This is a crop of the image above, and you can just imaging the people on the bridge going "oohhh" and "aahhhh".
Nope, just a single image. No moon definition as it becomes visible from behind the palm tree and bridge. But I like the overall feel of this photo, with the people walking up on the bridge and down below on the platform, the the blur on the passing train. Lots going on!
Definitely a composite. The original (bright, washed-out, undefined moon) looked crummy. I loved how this guy was stopped in his tracks when he spotted the moon and was moved to take the picture. The photo is a lot more powerful when you can see the moon as it really looked!
Yes, a composite. One of my favorites from the night. This train came flying through the station, and I had no idea I was capturing these bright colors and lines until I pulled it up on my computer later that evening. Like a space ship blasting off!
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