05 August 2010

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Sunrise MoonAfter shooting thousands of photographs during last year's Pioneer Youth Trek, I had to take my camera in to have Wyoming taken out. Infamous dust storms left a few uncomplimentary dark spots on my Nikon D300's sensor, plus, at the time, I'd shot about 35,000 photos during the year and a half I'd owned the camera. It was due for a good cleaning.

The cleaning was expected to take about three weeks. I didn't think I could go that long sans my best friend, better half, biggest piece of me. No offense, Lizard. Seriously. I just can't get through life without a camera. (I'm truly teasing. My Lizard is the best living thing in my life! The camera's the best non-living thing in my life.)

I rented the very same model from borrowlenses.com. Couldn't recommend them highly enough. And no, I'm not getting paid to say that. I'm not even getting a discount on my next rental for saying that. It's just a great place if you ever get in a photographic bind, which I can be prone to do.

Full Moon Over DenverThe full moon just happened to occur during that rental. I'm a full moon adict. Seriously. We plan vacations around where to shoot the moon. So we shot the moon with the rental camera. Which had a few settings set differently than the settings I hadn't figured out how to change on my own camera.

You see, the D300 comes with a 400-page instruction manual. And that doesn't include the Spanish version. That's in a separate 400-page manual. Which also came in the package when I bought the camera. I think it will be a great book to help me learn Spanish. One day.

I actually read the entire English instruction manual before I took pictures with the new camera back in 2008. I carried the manual around with me in my camera bag for the next year, too, so I could look up things as I needed them. Totally wore out the book without pulling it out of the bag too many times. When I'm in the middle of a big shoot and run across a problem, I'm more apt to search through the layers and layers and layers of menus to find the setting I need than pull out the book and try to find the section that MIGHT include the instructions I need. Most settings aren't where I would look for them. (So for those of you who've suspected as much, yes, I'm emotionally, intellectually and spiritually certifiably and verifiably twisted, backwards and upside down.)

While using the rental during the full moon, I noticed the ISO didn't change as darkness crept in. And I got a red (or pink) full moon! Yippee!

Red Full Moon
The auto sensor can be a handy thing when light levels change unexpectedly, but most of the time, I HATE that feature on the camera of my dreams. I didn't know I could turn it off until I rented my camera's twin, and then I couldn't find the setting to do so when I got my camera back.

Until last full moon.

I must admit, I haven't had many full moon photo opps in the last year because, like clockwork, the sky is cloudy wherever I am every time the moon is full. Month after month, I've been on wild goose chases, or I guess I should say wild moon chases, far too many times in my life.

Full Moon Clouded Again
Until last full moon.

I snapped a fairly decent shot on the way home from Crested Butte two nights before actual fullness (which, yes, I am well aware, scientifically is not technically full, but I'm no scientist, and it LOOKS round to me, so calling a full moon full is good enough for me).

Nearly Full Moon over Kenosha Pass
The following night, I noticed a golden nearly full moon from my living room window as it crested the horizon. Too late to go searching for a clever spot to set up the tripod, so I went to the backyard, which is guarded by a chainlink fence that makes landscape photography a pain, but all I wanted was the moon, so I could shoot through one of those little two-inch openings and hopefully still get the golden hue with some midnight blue sky.

through the fence
I had to work late the next night, the actual night of the full moon, so I didn't get to go to the preplanned spot to set up the tripod. I got home about 20 minutes before the red moon was due to rise and tried to convince myself I still had time to get somewhere I could shoot a better shot than through the fence.

"But I don't want to go back out again tonight."

"Yes, I do. The sky is clear. How often is that going to happen?"

"But I don't feel like going back outside. I've had a hard day!"

"And how are you going to feel tomorrow morning if you let tonight slip by without a shot on this cloudless night?"

"Stop trying to talk me into it."

"Get your butt moving right now, you wimp. You're going to miss it!"

Yes, I frequently have such discussions with myself. I wasn't teasing above when I admitted being twisted.

By this time, of course, I didn't have time to grab the tripod. So I grabbed just the camera and walked down the street, where I have a better view of the horizon, sans fence.

got it!I knew exactly where the moon was going to arise because the horizon had a bright spot that looked almost like a fire just beyond where the eye could see. i climbed atop the slide on a nearby playground and balanced the camera upon a railing so I could shoot without trigger finger motion. And at that exact instant, up came the bloody red moon. Just what I've always wanted!!!

But the dad-blasted camera adjusted the ISO for the dark sky, and the shot came out with a WHITE moon! That's not what I wanted!

I fumbled through the menus in the dark as the moon crawled completely across the horizon and neighbors gathered to try to capture same with their little camera phones. All the while, the redness was fading, and I was growing impatient. Yet I kept thumbing through menus, trying to find the right setting. It had to be in there. I knew it existed. The other camera had it. How could I get it, too?!?

Then my aha moment finally hit. Finally! 50,000 shots after buying this gem, I finally found the setting I needed! And the moon still had a tad of color left! Go figure. They put that stupid control under Shooting Menu, ISO Sensitivity Settings. Why in the world would they put it there?!? That just makes no sense at all!

But at least I've found the setting. I can change it now at will. And next time I get a red full moon, I won't miss it! Well, unless the clouds cover it up.
Full and ALMOST Red


  1. that's amazing!!!
    How can you get such a big moon like that ??? :-)

  2. Love, love, love your moon pics!

  3. Great photos. That is part of the reason I have enjoyed my photo-shooting so much (I hesitate to call it photography!). It's a challenge that keeps me learning!

    PS. I knew you would appreciate my new ride!

  4. What glorious shots of the moon!

    BTW I only sigh deeply when I look at the incredibly incomprehensible manual, (which only existed as a pdf-file on the internet), that came with my camera ;)

  5. lol, you are lucky to have a place to rent a camera. We don´t. 400 pages, that´s a lot.

    The moon is always, or mostly, red when it is close to the horizon. Especially in august for some reason. You did get some great shots! :)

  6. Ooo la lah!! I can't decide which one I love most. Oh, okay, I love them all! You're a fab photographer, my dear...

  7. Great pics. I`m mad, when it`s full moon :D.

  8. Your moon shots are just plain wonderful! I can picture you sitting on top of the slide in the light of the full moon. I too read manuals (English only) but 400 pages!?!? Yikes!


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