Making the moon shine — a photography question

We returned home from a family birthday celebration on Saturday to find the Harvest Moon glowing in the night sky. I got my tri-pod and made every effort to record what I was seeing with my eyes. Like in this picture, I saw the dark silhouette of the trees the moon was rising through and some clouds in the sky.

Yet I also saw the detail on the moon like you can see in this photo. I couldn’t get my camera to record them both at the same time. When I looked it up online, I saw the suggestion that you take two photos and use Photoshop to put the good moon on top of the good landscape.

Let me start by saying that this photo has a lot of things wrong with it, not the least of which is that there are branches across the moon that don’t line up with the trees I captured. So the first step if you’re trying this, is to make sure the moon is not obstructed in any way. If I were really good at Photoshop, I could possibly have corrected that problem, but alas, I’m not.

Anyway, this is the shot I was hoping to get, but not able to. Do you know any other non-Photoshop way of taking a photo like this?

When I woke up at 4:00 a.m., I saw a bright light in the sky flooding in from our bedroom window, which is on the opposite side of our house from where this photo was taken earlier in the evening. The moon had traveled around and was now visible in a different place in the sky. That set me to thinking about the moon going around the earth, and the earth going around on its axis, and then moving around the sun. And how fast all these things are really happening. And what might happen if the motion slowed down. Not something you want to be thinking about awake alone at 4:00 a.m.

Regardless of my lack of Photoshopping skills, and my mind’s tendency to wander, isn’t that a magnificent harvest moon?

Shine on.

27 thoughts on “Making the moon shine — a photography question”

  1. I don’t know the answers to your photography questions either (but wish I did, so please share if you discover…), and I also don’t want to think about the speed at which the earth, moon, etc. is moving, alone at 4 a.m. (or probably any other time, I leave that to MEH who LOVES to ponder those things at 4 a.m. and all the time!). But I love the images you’ve captured!

    1. I’m still hearing that Photoshop is needed, and based on the little I understand, I think that may be true. If you can catch the moon out before dark, however, you stand a chance of getting a better shot. It has to do with light metering, I think.

      I don’t mind pondering those things, but sometimes they’re a bit disconcerting. Maybe I’ve just watched too many doomsday movies.

  2. It’s a fabulous moon! I’m afraid of photoshop but I’m starting to play with picasa. That’s a sstart, right?

    1. I didn’t realize Picasa had an editing part. Now I see it does. I’ve used Picasa only for sharing photos with family. You’ll have to let me know how you like it.

      I never would have ventured into Photoshop if I hadn’t taken photography classes. They were an amazing help, but we hardly scratched the surface, and I have forgotten much of what I learned. And it takes so much time— as you know.

    1. Thanks Carol. I can do a few things with Photoshop, but there is a lot I don’t know. And these weren’t the best two images to try to merge.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. It does look very nice. I think you’d have to take two photos and combine them using HDR either in Photoshop or a plug-in from PhotoMatix. My husband thinks the plug-in from PhotoMatix does a better job, but he’s blowing his pictures up to huge canvases, not putting them into a blog.


    1. That’s one thing I like about you, Nancy. You always know this kind of thing. I’m just now hearing about HDR images, and am intrigued by trying to learn it. There is always so much to learn and so little time. Thanks for the link. I may decide to look into it. Probably for now, I will see what is possible with my Photoshop version.

  4. It is magnificent and I think you did a wonderful job with it (and much better than I could have with Photoshop as I don’t have very good Photoshop skills). My moon shots are always hit or miss, and I can never figure out how I managed to get a good one so I end up repeating the same experiments over and over again. Someday I’ll take notes.

    I didn’t get to see the Harvest Moon. It was cloudy here. Thanks for sharing your version of it. 🙂

    1. I think one of the tricks with moon shots is to take it before it gets too dark. Then your light metering does a better job. It’s kind of hard to figure out what you’re doing when you’re standing outside in the dark. I know how that feels. 🙂

  5. Compositing is just one tool that enriches the photographic experience. Photographic certainly has entered the arena of fine art and graces walls of businesses and the private sector.

    I hesitate to tell you that editing your photo would take me seconds because I have 20 plus years of experience using Adobe Photoshop. I remind people who see enhancements that they took the original shot(s), not me. I give you all the credit in the world for having a good eye for composition and light. – Bob

    1. You would probably love Photoshop. But it’s an expensive program. I hear a lot of people talking about Elements. I need to check it out. There are other inexpensive fun editing software programs out there too if you are ever looking for one.

  6. I’m with Nancy–which moonshine were you talking about? 🙂
    Your 4:00 a.m. musing reminded me of a scripture I read recently, about the earth and the heavens being in balance. It got me to thinking about that, what if one mountain had been a bit higher, would that have thrown off the rotation? How perfect and exacting all creation is. I’m for leaving it all in Bigger Hands and sleeping at 4:00! 🙂 Your photos are lovely.


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