Full Moon Camping

This past weekend a few friends and I went camping in the mountains down in Colorado. The moon was about 98% full and provided some excellent night-looks-like-day photo opportunities. Here are just a couple shots I took.

We found a little campsite just off the main road, right next to a creek and nestled back behind some trees and large bushes. We got a good fire going, enjoyed a few smores, and relaxed for a few hours. As an aside, we also overheard some interesting conversations between a few older folks camping nearby, who also seemingly couldn’t keep their blow-up mattress (?) inflated (that pump must have gone off 5 or 6 times!). Later, we realized how bright it was out due to the moon. So, naturally I pulled out my camera and went to work. The above photo was taken just before midnight, while the next one was taken about a half hour later.

The settings required to get photos like this are not all that unusual. For the first photo, I shot it at 16mm (and then cropped it) on my full-frame Canon 6D at f2.8, ISO 800, and left the shutter open for 10 seconds. The second photo, also at 16mm, was shot at f2.8, ISO 1000, and 15 seconds. It does indeed help (for the sake of noise and overall low-light functionality) that the camera was full-frame, but basically any modern day DSLR can do this. The hardest part, honestly, is getting the focus correct. Even though it was quite bright that night, it was still dim enough that the camera wasn’t able to focus on its own. In the second photo, for instance, I had to shine a headlamp on the stop sign and manually focus by zooming in on the camera’s live view and adjusting the focus ring on the lens. I think it turned out pretty good. You can even barely make out the Milky Way!

The next morning we went for what was supposed to be a relatively easy hike along the Continental Divide on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, but 4-6-foot snow drifts covering the trail slowed us down, soaked our boots, and ultimately convinced us to turn around early. Next time!