Eva Young

Eva Young's "Rise Lunation" - click to enlarge

Eva Young Gains
Astrophotography Accolade

"Rise Lunation"

"Rise Lunation" was taken at a spot, walking distance from where I live in a rural community, 600 meters up in the foothills of northern Italy, there are agricultural and industrial plains down to the north and mountains over southward. I can be technically minded but it's not usually my priority and I tend not to plan, if I haven't been out in the skies for a while especially at twilight times I get pretty tetchy. I decided I needed to make time over winter festivities, I desired to be with a ripening Moon as it rose and to savour the anticipation. Boxing Day 2015 was a day after the full Moon so I set my sights on that and even checked for a more precise time or so I thought, to be in place in good time, at an eastern vantage point.

Dr Nick Campion and Eva Young

Dr Nick Campion and Eva Young

My camera, a Canon SX 50 HS, was already and luckily mounted onto my tripod as I arrived - quite simply because I had moved from a western site observing Mercury setting. As I reached the eastern vantage brow, I was surprised to see the Moon already up, so the timing was all wrong. I flipped into action all once yet stunned by the intensity from the Moons mass, a deep shimmering sulphur glow, like an apocalyptical Sun - I was turning the camera on, grappling with the tripod legs for even ground, setting focus to manual - infinity, timer to 2 seconds, light metering to centre, tightening tripod fixings and trying to zoom the Moon centrally in the frame which was tricky given the excitement. I usually zoom to x100 with moon portraits but had to make do with x75 which equates with 215mm as everything was moving so fast. I took 8 shots in 2 minutes by which time the Moon had steadied already and ripples lessened.

Other technical decisions I can say were conditioned by the earlier Mercury observations - in the heat of the moment I hadn't checked the ISO, which increases light sensitivity, this was set at 400, I'd up-ed it earlier to capture Mercury and luckily this also worked well for the conditions of "Rise Lunation". The aperture, lens opening was as low as it could go at f/6.5 and this to be clear is not very low at all, usually astrophotographers want to go down to 2.5, I can go to 3.5 when not using the zoom which further restricts that. This is why I will compensate with ISO up to 900s although ISO does not work on my camera with speeds slower than 1 second which is also restrictive. The technical spec of the image, all said and done is 215mm, f/6.5, ISO 400, half a second.

Eva Young

Eva Young. Photo: David Baker

Post processing is controversial because different people have different ideas - I tend and try to do as little as possible, I also try not to crop but did a small amount purely to centre it better since I'd struggled with that in the field - and for this reason I didn't crop it perfectly central, something the art curator Melanie Vandenbrouk over an exchange had picked up on with glee. A couple of fellow prize winners asked me at the judge's brunch if I'd used a filter, the answer being, no! No filter, no contrast, no saturation, no nothing and just one exposure. Other times, I may tweak an image if I feel it helps to draw out a truer representation or highlight a feature but I did not feel this to be necessary in this case, only potentially detract, being already as near perfect in representation of what I witnessed. It's not unusual particularly for astrophotographs to stack and stitch many images, great techniques to accentuate details adding depth and so on, again not something I felt to be necessary here. It's important to me to share my passion for the many Moon shapes and phases not just the more familiar and tidy ones.

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