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Sunday
Jun232013

Supermoon Maternity Portraits

There's really only one way to photograph the moon, and that's with the most obnoxious lens you can find.  Big. I mean really, REALLY big.  The kind that makes wives just shake their heads.  If she rolls her eyes, then you know you've got the size.  In this case, it's a 600mm, with a 2X teleconverter, for a total of 1200mm.  Total length of the rig is 29 inches, total weight 17 pounds.  Thanks to the awesome crew over at BorrowLenses.com for helping to make this happen.

The long lens is needed to get the moon to a decent size in the frame.  But at the same time, I wanted the subjects to be small to create the sense of scale, and dwarfed by the "Supermoon".  Otherwise, what's the point?  To do that with a 1200mm focal length, I had to get far away.  I mean really, REALLY far away.  It also helps to put the subject at an elevated location.  This helps by allowing more time for the sun to drop below the horizon, so that the ambient light is lower to preserve more detail in the moon.  In this case, the hill was tall enough so that it wasn't too difficult for pregnant mothers to climb, and also allowed for enough ambient light to see their faces without the use of a flash.  Total distance between camera and subject is about 1,700 feet (I used a bicycle to save time).  The height difference is about 62 feet (thanks to the guys at The Photographer's Ephemeris for pointing out the feature, here).  Also, you'll notice there is a remote trigger, a PocketWizard connected via 10-pin cable.  When shooting at 1200mm, even the slightest vibrations are noticeable.  I tried pushing the shutter by hand, but that was disastrous.  Even with a remote trigger, the shutter itself causes the camera to jiggle.  So I put a sandbag on top of the lens to stabilize it.

The software below is The Photographer's Ephemeris.  I can honestly say it is pretty damn accurate. The light blue line represents the moonrise, and the app pretty much nailed it.  You can plug in any date, at any time, and it will give you trajectories for sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset.  All overlayed on a Google map.

A few more tips:  bring walkie-talkies and bug spray.  Thanks to Kim Anderson, Joanne Jeng, and Nate Yang for coming along.  And congrats on your new babies!

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    - Kiet Do Photography Blog - Supermoon Maternity Portraits

Reader Comments (2)

As any engineer will tell you, torsional rigidity is difficult to maintain when an object is supported at only one point. If you want greater stability for a lens of that size, attach the lens and camera at two points. For instance, support the lens with a monopod, the body on a tripod. If you then add ballast between the two support points, you will achieve far greater stability. The down side is a lack of mobility. Once your rig is set up like that, you can't easily make changes.

June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris Oaten

Awesome shots! Have you ever tried a Celestron 8" sct at prime focus with a t adapter? 2032mm focal length (1260mm with reducer) in a small-ish package with far more stability for mounting and $9,000 cheaper new. ;-)

November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd Graff

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