Hasselblad Moonrise

Click photo for larger view
Conditions last Sunday lined up perfect for a moonrise image so I decided to try out the Hasselblad H4D-40 Ferrari Limited Edition we have here at Camera West.

The H4D-40 Ferrari is very unique. A collaboration between the two world renown companies with passions for quality, design and of course performance. Only 499 of these limited edition cameras were produced. The unique color (Ferrari calls it “Rosso Fuoco”) is an attention getter and I was busy most of my shooting day answering questions from curious on-lookers.
A medium format camera is a bit foreign to my 35mm single lens reflex upbringing but that said, the H4D was quite easy and intuitive to operate. It even shoots in a point and shoot mode should you care to photograph that way. Needless to say, I love the 40 megapixel image it produces and the fact that it pretty much operates like a 35mm DSLR, making me feel quite comfortable with it. The H4D also has an autofocus feature they call True Focus with Absolute Position Lock, which uses motion sensors to detect by how much you’ve rotated the camera to recompose your image. It’s pretty cool innovative technology and works well. It has another great feature that really came in handy for my moonrise photo of the Oakland – SF Bay Bridge. Since I was shooting at a slow shutter speed and did not have a cable release, I set the camera to a 5 second timer mode so that in the process of pushing the shutter button, I did not move the tripod mounted camera. Here’s the cool part : the H4D will lock the mirror up first, then count down 5 seconds before exposing the sensor. No more worries about the camera’s huge mirror flopping up and down vibrating the camera. Nice touch Hasselblad!
The moonrise photo you see above was actually two images shot with the HC Macro 120mm f4 and stitched together in Photoshop CS5 using Photomerge.  I used ISO 100, choosing an aperture of f16 for maximum depth of field and a shutter speed of .8 second. 
It’s difficult to really convey the clarity this camera and system of lenses produces on the small photos you see here, but stop by Camera West in Walnut Creek and we’ll show you this moonrise image on our 27 inch iMac. You’ll be impressed. You can also check out the beautiful H4D…you’ll be doubly impressed!
Below is a cropped image from the photo above just to show you the detail the H4D produces. The shipping cranes you see in the background are at the Port of Oakland, 3.5 miles away from my shooting position at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco!

Whenever the moonrise time is similar to the sunset time, you have perfect shooting conditions because, since the moon is lit by the sun, it’s exposure is similar to daylight. What this means is that your landscape exposure will be close to your moon’s exposure giving you detail in both. You may notice some moon photos where there is no detail in the moon. It’s just a white dot. That’s because you’ve over-exposed the moon’s exposure, trying to pick up some detail in your dark landscape. Vice/versa, you can have detail in your moon, however your landscape is black. So, anytime the moonrise/sunset or moonset/sunrise times are similar, you’ll find perfect conditions to make some memorable images.

Here is an example of shooting a moonrise well after sunset when there’s a large difference between the exposure of the moon and the exposure of the landscape. This photo was taken a half hour or so after the image at the top of this post. I chose to expose for the landscape which makes the moon way over exposed. I placed my position so that the moon was behind the bridge tower to minimize the overexposed moon. This photo, taken with my Canon 5D Mark II (2 second exposure at f2.8, ISO 100) has an entirely different feel to it and that’s the beauty of ever changing light and photography!

Finally, another plug for my favorite photography app, The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE). Using a program like TPE will help you find those rare days where the moon, sun and earth line up for your perfect shot. With it, you can determine exactly where the sun or moon will be from your shooting position on any day at any time. This free desktop app (donations to the developer Stephen Trainor are encouraged) is an absolute must for any landscape photographer.

Now go out there and plan your next shoot. Hint…February 7 is looking pretty sweet!

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