Creativity Challenge #15 - Square Format

Shooting in square format is foreign to me. I am so used to planning, composing and processing my images in the default DSLR 3:2 format that it is difficult for me to think square. I sometimes find a 'better' composition and crop square during post-processing but for this challenge I wanted to concentrate on designing square images while in the field.

Point Lonsdale

With a full moon tonight, I headed for Point Lonsdale to shoot the rising moon adjacent to the jetty and to look for square compositions of the setting sun framed by some of the formations on the rock platform below the lighthouse. 

I arrived early enough (about an hour before sunset) to scout the location - even though I know this location very well, it pays to be there early to line up the compositions in advance rather than running around in a mad panic at the last minute as the light is happening. 

My first composition was to frame the western sky between two large rock formations with another formation in the mid ground and use the last rays of light as a diagonal line leading the eye from the bottom left corner through the gap between the rocks. 

 38mm, ISO 100, 5-shot bracketed HDR 1/160-1.6 seconds @ f/11 Circular polarising filter

38mm, ISO 100, 5-shot bracketed HDR 1/160-1.6 seconds @ f/11
Circular polarising filter

It didn't take me long to realise that I had miscalculated the sunset location so I was forced to move a few steps to my left and reframe for sunset.

 70mm, ISO 100, 5-shot bracketed HDR 1/125-2 seconds @ f/16

70mm, ISO 100, 5-shot bracketed HDR 1/125-2 seconds @ f/16

Done there, I went to the jetty to line up a composition with the jetty dominating the left side of the frame and the rising moon appearing behind the haze on the right hand side. Fortunately, my mental calculations of the location of moonrise were bang on (unlike sunset) and 70mm gave me the tight crop that I was looking for. The challenge with shooting the full moon rising is the exposure difference between the moon, which is reflecting sunlight so needs to be shot at typical daylight settings, and the surrounding landscape which is dark so requires long shutter speeds. The moon is also moving quickly relative to the Earth and this movement is exaggerated with tele lenses so a long shutter speed results in a streak of moon rather than the circle you expect and want. To overcome this, I shot two images: one at 30 seconds to correctly expose the landscape (in particular to get the colour in the jetty pilings) and one at 2 seconds to get a reasonable exposure and reduce the movement of the moon. The smoky haze on the eastern horizon dulled the moon's brightness so I could get away with the 4-stop difference between these shots. The only tricky part was blending the second shot of the moon into the first shot but the pink haze helped. 

 70mm, ISO 200, 2-shot blend: 30 seconds and 2 seconds @ f/11

70mm, ISO 200, 2-shot blend: 30 seconds and 2 seconds @ f/11

Here's the video of this shoot from my YouTube Channel:

Please feel free to comment below - constructive criticism and debate are always welcome.

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