You’d think that after spending a few years now pursuing this genre of photography that I’d have my approach fairly well sorted out. Alas no, as I found out this week as I endeavoured to capture my first supermoon. I took the usual precautions of scouting potential foreground targets, using the enormously useful Photo Pills app to align my composition around the trajectory of the moon and finally of course locking in the time I’d actually make my shots. Despite all this, for the most part it was a swing and a miss.
My first mistake was I misread the date that Photo Pills had identified the supermoon occurring, I was a full 24 hours too late. Second mistake was I planned my shoot around 5am as the supermoon kicked in, however at this time the moon was still at 40 degrees elevation which limits composition, particularly so when shooting at the super telephoto end. 3rd mistake was that while I had scouted my target (which was the local cathedral) at 10pm when it was all lit up, I had not scouted it at 5am when there were actually no lights on at all. The result of this being the luminance differential between my foreground and background was far too significant to properly expose for both targets at the same time. My final mistake was when I was looking up the hyperfocal value for the circa 150mm focal length I was planning to shoot at on my Panasonic GX85, I didn’t notice the hyperfocal table was still set to show values for my full frame Sony A7s. So rather than having a hyperfocal distance of a little over 100m at f8, I was actually looking at close to 190m. Even if I had been able to expose correctly for both targets, the cathedral was just too close to be able to get both it and the moon in focus.
All this aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed the morning and being in the city as it was waking up. Just that the only picture I managed to really salvage from the night could have just as easily been taken from my backyard as driving in to the city centre. I must say that I was pretty impressed with the detail I was able to obtain with my Micro Four Third Panasonic GX85 and an inexpensive 45-175mm lens (90mm-350mm full frame eqiv). As much as I struck out this morning in terms of the composition I had planned to capture, I think it has confirmed to my mind that it will be worth it to invest some dollars in a much longer reach lens for this system. With some patience, I should be able to kit myself out with about 1000mm full frame equivalent reach for around $500AUD.