Nighttime at the sea, no clouds, full moon. It’s already a little bit kitschy, but that is the setting I had two days ago. And off I went to the shore.

Camera settings: Aperture mode, tripod, remote control, noise reduction for long time exposure activated. Unfortunately I shot JPG, so the quality of the pictures got bad in some areas due to compression artifacts. (What did I learn again ? Check-your-gear-and-check-your-camera-settings, IDIOT….). But here I went:
DSC_0701
What do you notice ? Oh yes, stars ! (Click on the picture if you can’t see them at this resolution !) Against full moon ? And even some dark areas (sea, side of the house) are lit quite well ?

Well, what I did was dodging the picture during the exposure. The sky is quite bright, and if the camera tries to get a smooth exposure, the sky will be hopelessly overexposed. So the bright part had to be darkened during the exposure. And that’s how I did it.

The shutter was open 5-8 seconds (next time I will use shutter priority or manual, promised). Before the exposure I looked through the finder and waved my hand in front of the camera to determine where I would have to place my hand in order to cover the sky. Then I started the exposure, and after 2-3 seconds I started waving my hand before the lens in the area I determined earlier. Result – see above and below.
DSC_0708The same technique was used for the picture of the ships. You can notice some stars. Of course you could achieve the same result by using a grey filter, but I did not have mine with me. The hand-waving technique worked well, perhaps you have to take several shots because you might not hit the exact areas at first try and darken something which should be brighter…. but hey, it’s digital photography, you can take as many shots as you like !

I am waiting for another coudless night here to experiment with this technique a little further and improve the setup (shooting RAW, shutter priority or manual exposure…). Perhaps I can work out some more stars !

Summary:

Shoot in RAW mode, manual exposure, use tripod and remote control, activate noise reduction. Before exposure determine the areas you want to darken, Start exposure, wave your hand (or everything else which somes in handy).

P.S.: Why is waving so important ? If you just held your hand before the lens statically, you would see the edges of your hand. The waving process ensures, that there is no sharp border visible.

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