2791 & 2794. Te Henui ti kouka in flower, by moonlight. 25 October 2015
Usually I try to avoid subtlety, but these two images a short interval apart demonstrate the use of flash. In the scene above – the steep flank of an old pa above the Te Henui in New Plymouth – the flash has a fill-in function but also highlights the central tree trunk. The image below gives away my vantage point, one of the two new (2013) footbridges on the walkway. Here the flash illuminates the railings but is not strong enough to highlight the background. It’s a startling shot but I prefer the straight one above. A perfect spring evening, it was quite still in the sheltered valley, with the rising moon waxing at 90%. This was our most enchanting pause on the walkway, one open to the moonlight and enhanced by the heady scent of the cabbage trees.
Moonlit margin, Taranaki. 27 August 2015, 9.50 – 9.51pm
In Taranaki a calm, clear night with a waxing moon is not to be ignored – but rather than drive around, I sometimes prefer to walk out and see what turns up, as pastoral peace on the city margins is not too far away. This two-frame panorama of contented cattle sums up my evening, although my cold, wet feet also made themselves felt by this point. My new photo book on Mt Taranaki will feature day and night photography, but only in standard frame images – no scope for panoramas! Double click on the image for a larger view.
3409 Bold sentry, Paritutu, New Plymouth. 11.34pm, 21 July 2013
I admit to some anxiety parading a mannequin in a public place late at night, being too old for the art student look, so I was relieved to have this popular venue to myself for the duration. The torso was a gift from my daughter, intended as offset to a female mannequin she admired in one of my old photos. The pot plant is 100% artificial too. Moonlight and port lighting (background) are supplemented with torchlight on my two props. The steps lead to a brutalist viewing platform below Paritutu, the steep volcanic remnant which dominates the local coastline. A cloudlet wandered over, to complete the composition. Not recommended for biscuit tins.
Mt Taranaki is bare of snow and ice for 4 or 5 months of the year; this view from the Blue Rata Reserve is a sandwich of two frames, taken on a full moon evening, the last of summer. The Stony (Hangatahua) is a fast-flowing stream, one prone to flooding with dramatic effect. In shooting for panoramas there are two main hitches: securing enough overlap of the frames (for auto alignment in post-processing), and ensuring a level track in your arc of view, on the tripod.
Still round the corner, New Plymouth. 10.49 pm, 30 October 2012
Still round the corner there may wait / A new road or a secret gate And though I oft have passed them by / A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run / West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
The mother ship is obviously poised. 9.20 pm, 26 October 2012
For the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home. –John Newton
Darkness on the Old Mountain Rd, Taranaki. 6.51 – 6.56 pm, 9 July 2012
To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude. – Joseph Addison
Driving north in the early evening, I paused on a 2 km disused section of the old highway, quaint now for its narrowness and rustic one-lane bridge. The night was cold and moonless, with a constant hubbub from the nearby highway. No one came by while I tussled with the split focus (between initial flash and the following l-o-n-g exposure) of gate/mountain with a telephoto.
I’m surprised to see Mt Taranaki lit up by the street lights of surrounding towns, but knew my own parking lights would contribute to the gate’s illumination. I was on my way back to New Plymouth, but after a long day on the road was too cold & weary to attempt more than this.
The bluffs at moonset, Gilbert's Beach. 10.55 pm, 12 March 2011
If only I could stand on a street corner with my hat in my hand, and get people to throw their wasted time into it! – Bernard Berenson, U.S. art critic
Taken last year at Te Hapu, Golden Bay and recalled by our more recent stay. Moonset before midnight always means a crescent moon, a simple fact of celestial mechanics. Without a prolonged exposure I had not thought it possible to get such a landscape by a slender moon, especially one so low on the horizon.
I like the warmth of light, fence shadow (right hand corner) and the veil of stars, more prominent than they would be under a full moon.
Peering through a suburban cabbage tree involved an awkward set-up on sloping ground; every slight adjustment of the tripod also changed the ponga ferns relative to the foreground. I was however nicely sheltered from a frigid gale.
I’ve used a conventional depth of field method known as f22, rather than split focus (see no. 170). This is the next aperture down from f16; not many lenses have it so I’m glad to see f22 on my 28mm and my new 50mm lens.
With moonlight this means a fairly long exposure (292.1 seconds) to compensate, but it does give star trails instead of hyphens or stutters.
Later that same evening. 10.52-10.56pm, 17 July 2011
The truth is more important than the facts. – Frank Lloyd Wright
I clambered up a cutting for this welcome perspective, then waited a while for a car to complete the picture, a 5 min 35 sec exposure. The car is actually a police car looking for me. A strange vehicle has been reported down a driveway, although mine is quite plainly parked in a large tanker layby, just out of frame.
Soon the police will return so I’ll descend to explain myself. Glad they’re on the job, but what’s with the dog? It’s a slow night for sure, but otherwise a great one for moonlight photography.
28mm, ISO 2000. 335 seconds at f22. Incandescent light balance
Moonlit evening, passing car. 9.57pm, 17 July 2011
Too much light is like too much darkness: you cannot see. – Octavio Paz
Mt Taranaki and the Southern Cross. I’d had this viewpoint in mind for sometime, as it has a convenient carpark and a sweeping bend. Much depends on car speed, headlight direction and high or low beam – plus ISO choice and moon brightness – but my aperture here was too generous. So I’ve densitised the RAW result to get the desired effect.
Choose a local road but don’t leave it too late or you’ll sit waiting for traffic. And as the evening progresses, each passing vehicle takes a greater interest in your purpose out there.
Moonlight on Te Rewa Rewa. 2.29-2.32 am, 20 January 2011
The thing always happens that you really believe in, and the belief in a thing makes it happen. – Frank Lloyd Wright
Using the smallest aperture on the bridge I got both the near bones and the distant peak into sharp focus with a telephoto lens. A lower ISO was needed to extend the exposure for star trails but the moonlit sky is actually too bright for them.
The bridge has won several international awards. Its clever design has the spine start on one side and end on the other, to great effect. Mt Taranaki is often shrouded, so visitors are by no means guaranteed this line-up.
Spring moonshine: Free performance. 8.54pm, 29 September 2011
No state of affairs is ever perfect. – Horace
On a mild spring evening a slip of a moon comes down the starry sky to a calm sea. What a marvellous programme! A bench seat was provided but there was no admission charge, applause or intermission – and no commercials. Truth be told though, I had to leave before the moon did, not wanting to inconvenience the patient souls sitting in my car…
A more consciously abstract image, the layered bands weren’t obvious on site. From below you see the cliff shadow, then the more distant Tasman Sea lit by the industrial shore, then a last lingering twilight below the stars.
Suburban moment, New Plymouth. 9.53pm 8 September 2011
Life is made up of marble and mud. – Nathaniel Hawthorne
It’s surprising what you find close to home when you can’t venture far. Apart from their starriness, this scene matches with the previous one, Marahau before moonrise, in one sense: use of f4. However their shutter times demonstrate how far apart light levels can be on different nights: 3 secs v. 327 secs – same ISO.
I like the colour range here and the sense of depth in the heavens. Three secs is not enough to stop the moonlit cloud and even the stars are shaking. Hawthorne’s “mud” here refers to the marring power line, which went up only last year.
Marahau before moonrise, Abel Tasman coast. 11.52 - 11.58 pm, 29 November 2010
Somehow to capture the constantly evanescent quality of existence.
– Tennessee Williams, on his goal in writing
It can be a pain to wait for the moonrise on those nights following full moon – although you do get some quality time with undimmed stars and the odd cloud capture. Eventually the eastern horizon lightens and of course it’s too early for dawn.
This is one such evening, looking across the shallows from the last settlement before Abel Tasman National Park. Lights mark the channel at Astrolabe Roadstead; two islands are in view, the obvious one being Fisherman’s. The view varies with the tide, here at its peak.
Moonlit mountain, Taranaki. 11.57 pm, 17 July 2011
Everybody has talent at 25. The difficult thing is to have it at 50. – Edward Degas.
With midnight as my deadline, this roadside shot was one of my last for this cool but lovely evening. Pheney Rd is a quiet country location but it is not far from the city and camerawork is not so relaxing late at night when you are in a public space.
A relatively short exposure and wide angle means good star points; getting the opposite effect – good star trails – in combination with flash is tricky on moonlit nights, for light balancing reasons. This photo is soon to be published in a national magazine.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
Last full moon I spent many happy hours over several evenings tackling the budding magnolia next door. This one worked better at f5.6 than at f16, to my surprise, but with f16 needing nearly 5 minutes the risk of a breeze was high. So instead of deeper focus and star blazes I have made do with two blurred stars – the brightest in the Southern Cross.
Telephoto focus at close quarters on manual is painstaking, and I could only get this vantage point with the camera clamped to the top of a stepladder.