In recent years I’ve developed a mild obsession with low-light photography; this was a big factor in the decision last month to open my wallet for a Pentax K-5. I went crazy on the weekend and tried to use only moonlight; while it didn’t, strictly speaking, work, the results are still interesting.
My thinking was along these lines: I have a camera that’s alleged to take usable pictures at ISO6400 or maybe even higher, plus I have a lens (the Sigma 30mm f1.4) optimized for extra-low light.
So I put that camera and lens together for the first time, and practiced on a glass of red wine reflecting a hanging Tiffany lamp.
Emboldened by the effect, and since my four-year-old daughter had earlier in the evening pointed out that the moon was Really Round, I thought I’d go out and try to capture shrubberies by moonlight.
Let’s start with this daffodil, cranking the ISO to 12800. I was trying for moonlight but the streetlight was unavoidable; having said that, it was yellow and so was the daff.
I got partly out of the streetlights’ reach and cranked the ISO to a truly silly level. I discovered that, without a tripod and some reflective help like for example snow, true moonlight photography remains out of my reach.
Well, that’s assuming that you value realism, as opposed to Impressionist blur. Which, running the K-5 sensor’s output through Lightroom’s excellent noise corrector, is not entirely displeasing; you might want to enlarge this grainy rhododendron bud.
Then I sought still deeper darkness and zeroed in on a branch of something or other with no help but the moon’s. What emerged hardly seems a photograph, to my eyes. Still, I like it.