54. High tide by moonlight, Snapper Rock

December 16, 2010 9:04 pm

54. High tide by moonlight, Snapper Rock

High tide by moonlight, Snapper Rock (Motuotamatea). 9.22pm, 1 November 2009

Moonlight photography that looks like daylight! Almost. Until I thought of adding the immediate foreground, this spot seemed unpromising for an interesting shot. Although the high tide was surging below the crumbling cliffs of Back Beach, New Plymouth, the scene just seemed to lack depth. Using the wide angle end of the Lumix LX3 zoom (“30mm”), however, with some foreground for scale, gave a much better effect.

Exposure was 60 secs/f2.2@ISO 400. I don’t recall why the higher ISO was needed but it was justified, and a further small boost was given in post-pro to get this night-for-day look. The photo received enough acclamation for inclusion in my Moonlight Calendar 2011 (October), and we have also published it as a greeting card.

The movement of the flax and foliage shows that a steady wind was blowing (fairly common here); actually I was sheltering from the cliff updraught, and screened the tripod as far as possible from the buffeting. There’s a subtle cloud movement recorded by the long exposure but better still, the sea has been softened and turned an unexpected turquoise.

Strangely, there’s no surf line around Snapper Rock but a nice highlight instead on the rocks at one end. You can walk dryshod to this island on very low tides. There are well defined kumara pits on top from old Maori times and great views are to be had from the spur at other end.

In composition terms I gather that the appeal lies in its simplicity, sense of depth and movement, and its colour contrast. From the cliffs there aren’t that many options for a good frame on the islands (the Sugar Loaves), but this limitation is compensated for by the easy access and frequent changes in the weather, and so, of course, the light.

Posted by Barney Brewster

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Night photography

Barney Brewster – NZ Landscape Photographer

Based in Nelson, Barney loves to capture the New Zealand landscape, mostly through long exposures at dusk or after dark.