In this autumn study from my own front yard the background blur is star movement over 60 seconds. The zoom on the Lumix LX3 was set at 60mm, in full frame terms, and the aperture at the max, f2.8. The combination of city glow and moonlight was only just enough for the sensor, as the ISO of 400 shows – it’s a marginal setting on the LX3. The frame has been cropped slightly, as a tight composition presents real difficulty when you adopt the shoot-blind strategy for lack of a functional viewfinder in such low light. This evening was a great one for test shots with 3200 ISO, the results being only useful for extrapolating longer exposures at lower ISOs.
Close-ups and botanical studies are a good challenge for the night photographer, especially seasonal shots such as this. The persimmon tree loses its leaves very quickly each autumn, and your chosen specimen will be good for only one full moon of photography, or even less if a strong wind strips the tree while the moon’s still shining. The strong feature here is the simple two-colour statement, but the impact of the intense blue & orange really depends on your monitor, and its contrast and saturation settings. My own monitor has hopelessly unworkable adjustment buttons, and from this I conclude that many screens will be unable to show colour photographs at their best.
In the same way, the evaluation of immediate results for your moonlight photographs depends on the settings on the playback viewer. Every evening that I’m out with my camera, as twilight turns to night, I must remember to turn down the brightness of the viewer. Both the LX3 and the Nikon D700 have adjustments for this, so that pictures viewed in the dark do not come out underexposed when later viewed by the full light of day. Next time you are out by daylight though you’ll be puzzled by your dark results – until you remember: “Playback/viewer brightness!”