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28 August 2015

Sometimes we get up in the middle of the night. And when we do, we always make it a point to wander over to the picture window to see what's showing. This morning at 4:20 a.m., we saw this.

Moon Over The Pacific. Nikon D300, 18-200mm Nikkor at 52mm (78mm equivalent), f11, 2.0 seconds, ISO 1250, Manual mode.

We couldn't pass it up. So we stumbled down to the bunker, grabbed the Nikon D300, unscrewed the polarizer on the 18-200mm zoom, put the lens cap back on, flipped it over, put the quick release plate on for our tripod and trudged back upstairs.

We needed more gear. The D300's Power switch, pushed in the wrong direction, lights up the top LCD so you can see all the camera settings but we needed a little flashlight to see the Release mode settings inscribed in white on the black camera body. We also needed some reading glasses to make the little symbols out in the dark.

We took a number of shots at various camera settings. We used the shutter delay so we weren't touching the camera when the shutter moved. Then we put everything away.

Impossible to tell on the camera's little LCD whether we'd captured anything. We knew the moon itself, partially obscured by clouds, was a goner. But what we loved about the scene was the glow of moonlight on the ocean and the amber street lights of the neighborhood asleep.

So it wasn't going monochrome.

The moon is looney 16. But at that exposure. At f11 and ISO 1250, we'd have had to expose around 1/1250 second to get the moon in all its glory. And that would have left us with a black ocean. At 2.0 seconds, we were starting to get the sheen on the ocean.

We weren't bracketing so much as going through the camera settings (various apertures in sequence at various ISOs, leaving the aperture alone), hoping one of them would deliver the goods.

We picked the best of the batch and processed it in Piccure+, DxO Optics Pro 10 and Photoshop CC 2105. Three different applications.

But it didn't take long to realize that tweaking the camera capture wasn't going to get this image home.

So we started from scratch in Photoshop. Adobe Camera Raw got the ball rolling but our adjustments were minimal. We needed the Healing Brush to get rid of some power lines and reflections from the window we shot through. And we did some selective tonal adjustments, notably on the ocean itself.

That recreated the scene pretty well, except for the moon itself.

But, as we said, we weren't looking for the man in the moon in this shot. The power of its bright glow was good enough to suggest the majesty of the scene.

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