I was surprised at the massive response to this photo when I first posted it on flickr back in June 2008. It is still my most viewed photo.
Click on photo to enlarge
Here’s the technical information:
Camera: Canon EOS 450D
Shutter Speed: 90 sec
Focal Length: 10 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Date and Time: 2008:06:17 01:13:40
Exposure Program: Manual
A sleepless night ended up being a fortuitous event. I was visiting a friend in Townsville. A combination of insomnia and boredom led me outdoors with my tripod and camera. Fortunately, there was a full moon, some interesting cloud cover and a leafless frangipani tree in the front yard.
I decided an ultra-wide angle would give the expansive effect that I wanted to achieve. So, after fitting the lens and mounting on a tripod, I tried several different positions beneath the tree. I angled the camera upwards about 60 degrees – this is where a sturdy tripod and heavy duty ball grip head become very useful for fine control. I experimented with different ISO levels, apertures and shutter speeds. I finally settled upon ISO 100 at f4.5 for 90 seconds. Once again, enable mirror lockup and use a remote shutter release or self-timer to avoid camera shake.
I’ve found through lots of experimentation that trees and other stationary objects seem to take on an ethereal quality if shot at night at long shutter speeds. It seems that the moonlight gives an eerie glow and almost unreal texture.
So don’t be afraid to experiment – a lot. That’s the beauty of digital. You can delete anything that doesn’t work and practice makes perfect.