66. Maude Road mountain moonlight, Taranaki

Maude Road mountain moonlight, Taranaki. 8.54pm, 24 July 2010

So begins another series of square frames… if they are not square on your monitor then believe me, I have counted every pixel. However these are not “as-composed” on the ground glass but knock-downs from the standard 24×36, each time from seeing a new way of interpreting an existing shot. Cutting away waste or just plain simplifying is a useful discipline!

I was intrigued by the peer-through at this stand of pines at the Maude road end, north Taranaki. It had shadow and texture, and the slight shroud on Mt Taranaki was appealing. The square re-composition here is well-filled, and the bottom has a wee echo of the peak’s summit. The diagonal bracing gives extra strength and a sense of depth is suggested by the foreground interest, tonal banding and retreating fence… while it has lots of texture, it could do with some movement, such as cattle in the background.

Texture is the essence of monochrome photography, and so is side-lighting. The sepia or selenium tone was not obligatory but was more fitting than other combinations I tried under Colour Variations on Photoshop. I enjoy playing around with this feature but the palette is limited to blue, green and red.

Settings were f2.8 for 60 seconds, ISO 200. The Lumix LX3 was on maximum zoom, an odd 60mm (in 35mm photo terms); the camera sacrifices its tele function for a fast f2 on the wide end. This trade-off has suited my love of moonlight photography, an extreme form of “available light”.

Depth of focus is phenomenal, and owing to the laws of optics this depth would not be possible on a full-frame digital without a much smaller aperture – perhaps f8. These 3 extra stops however would extend shutter time and make more than tadpoles of the stars. Unfortunately the LX3 lacks a B function, so I’ll just have to try again sometime with the Nikon D700, in order to add star trails to this scene.