WEEK 38: The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

This week, we’ll have a bit of astronomical fun as we photograph the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. While looking through my old photos, I noticed that these types of shots were often some of my favorites. (Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunset, a gorgeous starry sky, or other celestial wonders.) As such, I thought these would make great subjects for this week’s challenge.

For this challenge, you can choose any combination of Sun, Moon, and/or stars that you like. While they don’t necessarily need to be the main subject of your photo, they should at least be an important element in the overall composition. Naturally, there’s lots of room for artistic and creative freedom here.

As always, let’s dive into some examples, starting with the Sun:

Backlit Leaves – Eric Minbiole

This photo was taken for a “backlight” challenge. While the leaves are the main subject, the Sun served two great purposes: Firstly, it served as a strong backlight, allowing the leaves to seem almost translucent, really showing off their fall colors. As well, the Sun itself, with its strong starburst effect, adds a fair bit of interest to the photo– certainly more-so than a plain photo of leaves would be.

Cranberry Bog Sunset – Eric Minbiole

Naturally, sunrise and sunset photos are always a great option. In this case, I loved the feel of this sunset over a beautiful cranberry bog. I especially liked the contrast of the warm sunset against the cool blue color of the water.

While this photo was taken just before sunset, the Sun was still extremely bright– much brighter than the surrounding landscape. To better allow for this, this photo is an HDR composite of 5 photos, ranging from -4 ev to +4 ev. Doing so allows us to properly expose both the bright areas and the darker areas at the same time. For more info on this technique, please feel free to check out my tutorial video on HDR Processing.

Blood Moon – Eric Minbiole

This photo was taken during a lunar eclipse, which gave the Moon a deep, orange color. I love how you can even see a few stars behind it. This week, unless something goes horribly wrong, will not include a lunar eclipse. However, while you won’t get the same orange color, you can still take some stunning photos. In particular, the week should range from a quarter moon to a near full moon, giving plenty of opportunities.

One important hint: The Moon is surprisingly bright, especially against the otherwise dark sky. (The Moon’s surface is about as bright as daylight.) By default, your camera is likely to significantly over-expose the picture, such that all the detail in the surface is lost. To compensate for this, you’ll likely want to reduce your camera’s exposure compensation or shoot in Manual Mode. As always, remember to check your histogram!

Milky Way over Mount Evans – Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

This photo of the Milky Way is nothing short of stunning. There is something magical about looking up at a clear, starry sky, and this photo captures that feeling perfectly.

Astrophotography can be a lot of fun– it’s incredibly satisfying when you capture the stars from a nighttime sky. If you’ve never taken a nighttime sky photo before, here are a couple of tutorials that can help get you started:

The Challenge

This week’s challenge theme is straightforward: Take a photo that contains any combination of the Sun, Moon, and/or stars. The photo can be taken during daytime, nighttime, dawn, or dusk. The Sun, Moon, and stars don’t necessarily need to be the primary subject of your photo, but they should still be a fairly significant part of the overall composition.

Creative, out-of-the-box ideas are always allowed and encouraged. Get your camera, be creative, and have fun!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph to our active community on our Facebook GroupFlickr Group or 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo:  #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • The shot should be a new shot you took this week, for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

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About Eric Minbiole

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with anything technical– electronics, computers, cameras, gadgets, etc. Growing up, I loved taking things apart to see what was inside. While I couldn’t always put things back together, I loved trying to figure out how things work. Because of my love for all things technical, I pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, and currently work as a Software Engineer. I’ve been fascinated with photography ever since borrowing my parents 110 film camera when I was young. It’s been a great hobby ever since: I love experimenting with photos, and trying new things. I especially love technical and/or trick photography. (“Gimmicks!”, as my wife jokingly calls them 😉 ) While I’m comfortable with the technical side of how to shoot, I struggle more with the artistic side of what to shoot in the first place. This is one reason I quite enjoy this group: There are fun, interesting ideas each week. I joined PhotoChallenge as a participant in 2014, and am amazed at how much this group has helped me learn. Each week, I look forward to the fun, creative challenges that Steve, Trevor, Gary, and Jeremy put together. Most importantly, the weekly challenges give me the motivation to get out there and take photos each week. (Otherwise, I suspect my camera might be gathering dust on the shelf.) As well, interacting with the fantastic members of the group– discussing suggestions, techniques, what works, what doesn’t– has been an invaluable help. I am absolutely thrilled to join the PhotoChallenge team– I’ve learned so much from the group, and hope that I can give back a little bit. If you’d like to see some of my photos, please check out my flickr page.