Instructables
Picture of Moonset In A Single Shot
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 Ever seen those images with several images of the moon and wanted to replicate it but in a single shot?  You can take a few shots and create a composite shot in Photoshop.  But can it be done in a single shot without a lot of fancy/expensive equipment?  I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try. So, here's an instructable on how I got the shot.

Theory

  The basic theory behind the shot is simple: leave the camera shutter open for a long time but block the lens most of the time. So, what we need is something that blocks out the light, is easy to open and close, and introduces a little vibration as possible. Once the light blocker is in place, we start the shot and open the light blocker at regular intervals.

   This instructable consists of two distinct sections. The first section deals with creating the light blocker. The second deals with taking the shot.

Equipment

Here's a list of what you'll need:

 - filter holder compatible with Cokin P Series  filters
 - Square filters lens hood for Cokin P Series holder
 - Adapter ring (one for each lens you want to use it with
 - Black nylon cloth (minimum size 16"x16" or 8"x32"; recommended size 20"x20" or 10"x40")
 - 2 Magnets
  - Square food container (bottom should be about 5"x5"), no lid necessary
 - Plasti Dip spray
 - Glue gun and several glue sticks
 - Wax paper
 - Old newspaper, a drop cloth, or something to protect your floors
 - Scissors

 - DSLR camera with full manual control
 - Camera remote control or Remote Shutter Release Cable
 - Tripod
 - extra camera battery (optional but highly recommended)

  Equipment Notes
 - For filter holders, there's also an "A" Series but there doesn't seem to be a hood for it.
 - The minimum cloth size requires some precision when gluing the cloth to the filter holder.  The recommended size will be easier to glue (you don't need to be as precise) and will require additional trimming.
 - I used nylon cloth because it's strong and lightweight. Nylon is also less absorbent than some other cloth types, which is a bonus in this case.
 - Use medium strength magnets - avoid the neodymium magnets. The magnets should be strong enough hold a bit of weight but weak enough that they pull apart easily. If they're too strong, you'll introduce too much vibration and may actually pull the camera out of position.
  - The Plasti Dip spray will be used to make help block out the light and cut reflection. The spray version is easier to apply than the dip version so try to get that. (Check the Plasti Dip site http://www.plastidip.com/diy_where_to_buy.php for where you can find the spray.)
 - Use as sturdy/heavy a tripod as possible.  This will reduce the chances of the camera moving out of position.

 Additional Note
 In theory, you may be able to do this by keeping the lens cap on for most of the shot. The main problem with relying on the lens cap comes when removing and reattaching the lens cap. Taking the lens cap off will cause the camera to shake, which may cause a blurry shot and/or the camera moving out of position. If you pause with the lens cap in front of lens after taking it off (to let the camera stop moving), a lot of light may come in from the sides or reflect off the lens cap interior and ruin the shot.

 
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bullfrogs3 years ago
I forgot to add something.
Be sure to remember the moon moves from the east to the west and either up rising or down setting so you have to frame the shot first before you take your first shot then all will go well. Yea sure and if you believe that there is a bridge for sale in New York City. LOL

Ray
Kabapu (author)  bullfrogs3 years ago
Moonset is much easier to plan for if you check the times and arrive well before moonset. This will give you a chance to set up the shot and make a pretty accurate guess of when you should start the shot, the framing, and all the settings you should use.
Moonrise is definitely much more of a guessing game, as you suggest. The best advice there would be to do it over a span of two days. The first day, set up and take normal photos so you have an idea of where the moon is rising, the brightness, and the framing you want to use. The second day, return to the same spot and set up according to the settings that worked best the previous day. Note that there will be some differences - moon brightness, moonrise time, and location the moon rises at. The differences (except moonrise time) should be minor, though. The weather must also be ideal - clear both days - for this to work. Much more difficult than moonset but not impossible.
bullfrogs3 years ago
This is called the HAT trick used for years by film users.
1. You have to solve the shutter release problem. Every brand film or digital, will be different.
2. You must have a sturdy tripod
3. You must decide on the duration of the Pause between pictures 5min-10min
4. set up your camera on the tripod.with camera on (F/8) or so
5. Release the shutter for 2 to 5 sec and place the BB cap, black hat, black cotton cloth dark rag etc. Start your count down for the next shot in the series.
6 When that time is reached gently remove the covering (You do not have to worry about movement until you expose the film or Digital sensor. When you are ready for the countdown to start move the hat or cloth from infront of the lens and give it your predetermined exposure and cover the lense when it is over.
7. Repeat as necessary until you have all of the exposures you want.
8. When you are starting off remember a couple things.
A. The moon travels (rather quickly) across the plane of the camera lens
B. On the first try do not use max telephoto, leave it wide angle so you can get several shots off.
C. I have found this to work much better if I use Manuel and set all of the parameters by hand. FOCUS, F-STOP and of course your hat will be the shutter......LOL
D. This also works well with black and white
Take lots of great shots and let me hear back

Ray
Kabapu (author)  bullfrogs3 years ago
I did consider something like a simple black cloth on the front but the main problem I saw with that was it was much more susceptible to light coming from the rear. I went with a more elaborate system because I wanted a system that would limit the effect of lights coming from behind the camera. A hat draped over the lens will generally not completely seal off the lens so light coming from the back could reflect off the inside of the hat and onto the camera sensor.

In my first use of the light blocker, I had a road behind me and I would occasionally get the headlights shining directly on the back of the camera. If I had used a hat, some of the light may have lit up the inside of the hat, ruining the shot. (There was light cloud so the shot didn't look as good as the one I used.) The second use came the following day. (The moonset photo I used was from this session.) I was in a different location for the second attempt and had some street lights behind me. There may have been enough light that a hat or cloth may not have been sufficient to block out the light.

That being said, if you can find a place where lights coming from the rear are not a worry, then your suggestion of using a cap, hat, or cloth is definitely simpler and cheaper.
Light_Lab3 years ago
I guess you mean a DSLR camera not DLSR.
Kabapu (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Thanks for catching that. I've corrected it now.
vincent75203 years ago
great work !
I only wonder the advantage of such a contraption to a simple time-lapse system ?…
Kabapu (author)  vincent75203 years ago
On film cameras, you could take a shot, rewind the film, and repeat. This would capture it on a single film frame. For digital, you don't have as many options for a time-lapse system. When a DSLR camera completes a single shot it writes the data to the memory card - there's no way to "rewind" the film. So, the only feasible way I cant think of to to do a time lapse for a DSLR is a system like this or to reprogram the camera (which is either nearly impossible or well beyond the abilities/resources of almost everyone).
Of course, you can do it the traditional way - take numerous shots and combine them using Photoshop (or similar software). Of course, it's no longer a single photo - it's a composite image. The benefits of doing the multi-shot method is that you can take numerous shots for each frame and choose the best, resulting in well focused images throughout. With the light blocker method, it's a lot riskier, as one bad image can ruin the shot.
If you want to enter competitions that don't allow composites or major photo manipulations, this system will let you get the same effect but in a single shot. Other than that, it's mostly either personal reasons for doing it in a single shot or for bragging rights.
Oh ! I understand now…
Maybe I should have shut my big mouth.
Thank you all the same as it really highlights many aspects of the question I was totally unaware of.
Kabapu (author)  vincent75203 years ago
One additional note: set your camera to save the photo in RAW format (or RAW+jpg). The RAW file will include the data recorded by the sensor and all the particulars about the photo (aperture, shutter speed - which in my case was 2717 seconds, etc.) which is evidence that it was done in a single shot. The RAW file is also easier for Photoshop or other software to make adjustments to (such as the white balance, exposure compensation, etc.). A jpg created by the camera is essentially the processed version of the RAW file. So, if you want to make adjustments yourself, the source data (RAW file) should be used.
Kabapu (author)  vincent75203 years ago
Keep asking questions. At this site, we're not only here to share, we're here to learn so questions are always welcome. And the learning comes from reading comments on instructables as well as the instructables themselves.
After watching the vid and seeing how you pause for a moment before really exposing the subject to reduce vibration, I think this would work better if the light blocker was removable instead of hinged. Then you could detach it, but hold it close to the lens for a few seconds to let the camera settle, and then move it away quickly and back. If it were held on with magnets, you could rotate to detach it and that would make the magnets less of a factor while you're waiting for the camera to settle.
Kabapu (author)  chestersgarage3 years ago
Interesting idea. I'd have to think about that. There is one concern that comes to mind, though. The filter holder is attached directly to the lens front. This means that the holder will be attached to the focus ring or filter on the focus ring. Rotating the blocker may result in movement of the focus ring. I don't have a mechanical focus lock on my camera so it would be susceptible to this.
However, making it fully detachable is a good idea.
link933 years ago
I feel like this would be hell on your sensor. I'd be careful but it's a great idea overall. I may try it.
Kabapu (author)  link933 years ago
I believe the shutter will easily wear out faster than the sensor. On most equipment, it's the moving parts that wear out first. The mean time between failures for cameras is calculated based on the shutter activations, indicating that it would generally be the first component to fail. (See the Nikon page http://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/16492/~/how-many-pictures-has-my-camera-taken%3F-how-many-will-it-take%3F.) So, doing the long exposure shots shouldn't overly stress the sensor, especially low light shots.