63. Rising moon on an ebbtide, Marahau

Rising moon on an ebbtide, Marahau. 2.44am, 26 November 2010.

Blue moon = tungsten. A simple equation, and further proof of my enchantment with the tungsten setting on my Nikon D700. Tungsten changes the colour temperature of a shot to adapt it to the warmer (=more orange) cast of filament lighting, be it by dull domestic bulb or bright studio lights. Not surprisingly, tungsten has some creative applications, notably where the feel of night is to be communicated. Simply put, although moonlight is close to sunlight on the spectrum, our eyes don’t see it that way. The moonlight photographer makes use of daylight and tungsten settings to different ends.

The blue here strikes a distinctive yet plausible note, although I am as fond of the usual golden moonlight as the next photographer. The banded effect comes from the interruptions of scattered cloud, while the superbly dark “sky” is that old photographer’s standby, a distant hillside in deep shadow. This is very simple moonlight photography – but at a late hour, to accommodate a late moon.

The stony detail helps with depth and perspective, but not with scale. It shows the foot of the rock wall along the Marahau road (see no. 60, taken 40 minutes earlier); the sharpness throughout comes from using f16, the smallest stop on my 85mm lens. This gives an excellent depth of field but it’s an infrequent choice for the moonlight photographer. Shutter time was 30 seconds, at ISO 2000; this is definitely a case of exposing for the highlights.

The wall was still being lapped by the tide, so the ebb was little advanced – at low tide this entire view is all sand flats. Even at 2.45am there was still some vehicle traffic, despite the low local population, but at least the road was free of the 20+ kayak-towing tractors you get by day. Marahau is a tourist destination, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, and at times the place is unpeaceably busy with tourist operators getting dozens of smallcraft into the water.