100. A road less travelled, by moonlight

A road less travelled, by moonlight. 10.25-10.30pm, 14 March 2011

It’s hard to believe this night-for-day is actually moonlight. These are the golden hues of a waxing moon, just past first quarter and sinking in the west. The pale orb had risen unnoticed about 12.30pm, and would set just before 4 am, but I knew I would not be up to see it, as we were leaving Te Hapu, Golden Bay, next day. We had four clear nights for photography, and so I took up a calendar theme I’ve been wanting to develop, that of untravelled back-roads.

This is one road very much less-travelled – about one vehicle per day. On private land (www.tehapu.co.nz), it leads to our cottage, the Shearing Shed Retreat, and then carries on to Gilbert’s Beach, down the cleft on the upper left. One of the shadows on the left margin is from the cottage, showing how little I’d wandered before seizing on potential material. The manuka in the foreground has been torched, in a manner of speaking, by the photographer.

I was pleased with the colours and am now aiming for a warmer palette in my moonlight photography. This seems to fit the bill, and is actually warmer than I’d expect from a full moon in the same position. What’s missing from this frame are a few steers grazing across the mid-distant flats, but not a single beast was at this end of the station. The distant battlements along the limestone scarp are natural but were unvisited by us, as they are on the next property.

Deep shadows add a sense of depth here, while the road provides an uncommon vanishing point, and extra perspective. A single power line, only mildly intrusive, has been removed. I somehow miscalculated the shot, overexposing it by about a stop, and corrected this using Levels. Usually I prefer f8 for deeper focus; here the light was at least 4 stops below full moonlight.

28mm, ISO 2500. 308 seconds (over 5 minutes) at f5.6. Vivid picture control.