The Moonlit Maternity Session

Maternity photos by the light of a full moon isn’t an simple undertaking.  The photos don’t show the threat of desert wildlife behind every cactus.  The photos don’t showcase the wounds from wrestling a bush of thorns in the dark.  The viewer doesn’t see stains from rolling around on the desert ground or hear the barked orders from the dusty, wounded photographer: “close your eyes!” “move to the right!” “stand perfectly still!” “no! don’t move!”

What the photographs do show, though, is a half a second of moonlit glee; the bursting joy of imminent parenthood, the beauty of motherhood, the power of an empty desert.

Reasons to love a Powerful Camera

When I was visiting Arizona last month, we didn’t have a lot of time to showcase that almost-born niece of mine and the only time we had was after dark.  Solution?  A powerful set of equipment, a second set of helpful hands, obliging siblings, and an LED flashlight.  I’ve long postulated that the camera doesn’t make the photographer but after trying to photograph two busy infants on a cell phone camera, I have to admit that a photographer needs the right tools for the job and then the skill to wield those tools.  For proof, I present a moonlit maternity session.

1. Letting in more light. And then more light.

When the ISO’s sensitivity lets in more ambient light than the naked eye, you know you have the right tool for a moonlit photo session.  While I don’t usually set that ISO to 2000 or 4000, it sure is nice to be able to do it with minimal noise.

2. Self timer.  The end.

Setting the shutter speed to 0.4/sec means if I even breathe I will disrupt the exposure and add blur I don’t want.  What’s a girl to do out on the desert floor without a tripod or available remote control? Situate the camera on the ground, propped up on the flap of a camera bag, set the self timer, and wait ten seconds.

3. Prime lens. Wide open.

I was completely manually operating here, of course, but in addition to cranking up the ISO and slowing down the shutter speed, I opened wide my Nikon 24mm f/1.8 to  glean every particle of moonlight possible.

4. Shooting RAW.

Five years ago, I laughed a little when Kelly Sauer strongly, adamantly, courageously challenged me to shoot in RAW and never look back.   It took a couple months of research for the analytic me to be convinced, but she was right: I’ve never looked back.

Shooting at moonlight isn’t part of everyone’s photography dilemma, but it was part of mine…and made me extremely grateful for technology and the equipment I’ve acquired over the years.  So what camera do you really need? How do you decide between the plethora of options available?  Do you have to spend $10k to take photos you’ll be proud of? I’m super excited to be gearing up for May’s blog series: untangling the technical geek speak involved in picking a camera and (hopefully!) helping you make a wise, informed camera-buying decision.

Photos taken on my Nikon D700 with the 24mm f/1.8 lens at 0.4/sec and f/2.5 with ISO 4000.  

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