Shooting the Moon
Shooting night scenes nearly always requires at least a passing sense of moonlight. The wash of soft overhead ‘blue’/daylight light at night has long been the staple of Hollywood night scenes. A remarkable 239 000 miles from earth, this planet offers a source of bounced illumination at night. It catches the daylight of the sun and bounces it back into our darkness. For tungsten balanced eyes at night this appears blue.
But it is the symbolic or metaphoric presence of the moon in a night scene that I find interesting. For lovers at night, vampires, werewolves, serial killers… the lunar presence, and the lunacy it is thought to evoke often lurks at the edges of our imagery. The moon’s gravity pulls so hard at our oceans that it causes tides, so no wonder it pulls so hard at our imagination.
I set about shooting this moon shot for a night scene, both as a lighting cue and as evocative of some of the dark behaviours of the human psyche. I recently came across a 500mm Nikkor mirror lens in a camera store in Tokyo and decided to test it. It was said to be high in resolution but low in contrast, which I often prefer for motion optics. Its fairly slow with an aperture of F 7ish, but sharp as hell. I used it with a Nikkor 2x adapter giving me a 1000mm focal length. Luckily the moon is extremely bright so lens speed is not particularly an issue… but sharpness is. An O’Connor 2060 head off heavy legs provided the support and I let the moon pass through the frame of its own accord … which happens fast at that focal length.
“Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses