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Super Moon – Nighttime Photoshoot

Victoria

As I was reading the local paper online, I found an article about a ‘Supermoon’ the coming Saturday. Apparently it only happens every 20yrs, so I made arrangements to go take pictures. Brad, a friend I met at a photography meetup group,  would join me after he went shooting in Rawdon.

We emailed back and forth to try to find a good location. The first was the observation area on Mount Royal. It has a great eastward view of the city of Montreal, but it is a typical tourist spot and it fell lower on the list. The second area was east of the Jacques Cartier bridge. It is a good view, but when I searched it from google maps, there seemed to be wires and possibly train cars in the way. We dropped it as an option.

I Google mapped around Old Montreal thinking that there might be a good view.  I finally fell upon Victoria bridge. It looked like a great option. Easily accessible, clear view of the river facing east, and a great train bridge as subject matter.

We decided to meet at the bridge, then maybe walk back through Old Montreal for a few last minute shots. I left home early to take pictures along the way. The metro dropped me off on the outskirts of the Old Port, and I made my way towards the bridge.

I was excited to use my new Tokina 11-16mm and it was on my camera body most of the way there. I took a bunch of pictures, but nothing really stood out. I was almost an hour early, so I walked up by the Habitat to take pictures of the skyline, port, and the Habitat itself. After about an hour of nothing spectacular, I walked back to the spot.

The one thing I noticed is that I don’t take enough time when I take pictures. I have to be able to look at something and understand the shot before I take it. I get to many bad compositions when I view them at home. While I understand this takes time, I should plan a photoshoot with that particular issue in mind. This will come in handy when I travel around France without scouting locations first. I will probably wait until it is a little warmer first.

My assumption of the bridge running due east was pretty much on track. I used an iphone app called “MoonPhase” to figure out where the moon would probably come up. It was pretty exciting as it seemed to be coming up right beside the bridge creating a nice play between it and the structure.

When Brad arrived we got our gear ready and positioned ourselves under the bridge. I had never taken images of the moon before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was using my 55-250mm lens so that I could get close enough.

Once the moon came up it was definitely a sight to see, but it was way more to the right than I had expected. I could tell then that the location wasn’t all that great. We couldn’t capture the bridge in the frame, and the river in front of us made the horizon a lot farther. I am assuming you need something more in the foreground/middleground in order to make the moon look so much bigger. Chris Donohoe did a great job in his image “Supermoon“. I also noticed my shutter speed was a little slow and all I got was the glow of the moon and not the detail. All my moon images were pretty useless.

Train Bridge

I loved the look of the old train bridge so I started to take some shots with the Tokina wide-angle. I was seeing a lot of weird lens flare and was getting worried about the new lens I was using. As I took a few more shots, the flares persisted. I decided to take off the UV filter to see if that was it, and it was. I was very surprised at how much lens flare it caused. I took a few more shots that turned out perfectly.

I tried a few different angles until I was happy with the shots I had. Behind us ran a highway that goes from the Champlain Bridge into downtown, and we were located right on a curve as the highway went underneath the train bridge. I had noticed it when I first scoped the location out and planned to take a long exposure as the cars drove by. It wasn’t all that busy, but I got some decent light streaks all the same.

Traffic

As we walked back to the car, I took a couple of shots of the moon through the train bridge, but nothing worth keeping.

We closed the night by trying out the Mount Royal observation area. I had never taken pictures from there, and we figured it was worth a try. As we arrived, there were a few photographers with serious looking gear packing up. As we walked through the park, there were a lot more people around than I had thought there would be. The lookout wasn’t very busy, but there were at least a dozen other photographers there with various types of equipment. The moon was pretty high up now, but close enough to the city to still make a few good shots.

The Moon

The one thing I loved about the new lens were the star patterns it created around the lights and the moon. My exposure was a little long, and you can see the effects on the moon as it has a little of a glow at the top. At least I think it is exposure, to be honest, I don’t know for sure. Will add it to the list of things to experiment with.

A Few Comments from the Shoot:

  • Scout locations before hand.
  • I have to concentrate on composition as I walk around. I can’t always scout locations beforehand.
  • UV Filter = lens flare.
  • Sometimes the typical tourist location is actually a better location.
  • Long lens and fast shutter speeds are better for moon shots.
  • Having a good foreground and middle ground is also important for moon shots.
  • Tokina lens has great star-bursts, but that isn’t great all the time.

 

 

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