Moon Shot

Moon Shot - Well no not literally a shot to the moon. The other day when the moon was full (actually it was at 98% full) I decided to head outside and try experimenting with my noon 200mm to 500mm lens. A couple of things to note here. First it is a Tamron lens not a Nikon which is a huge departure from my normal thought process. I ran outside with my camera, a Nikon D300 and newly purchased lens and was ready to go, or so I thought. If you would indulge me for a bit I want to share with you my entire thought process. I had fully intended to utilize some of the more "manual" features that most people neglect in the age of AUTO everything. I intended to set my camera for Shutter priority and let the camera figure out the correct aperture. My shutter speed was going to be a whopping 1/125 sec. Please note that I was attempting to follow the rule of f16 which is a method to estimate the correct daylight exposure without using a light meter. If ya wanna no more about that let me know. BUT because I don't think the way most people do I thought I'd try this rule while taking pictures of the moon as well. Now granted I was using a "rule" that assumes daylight exposures. Yeah I know what you're thinking it was night time, which usually means there is no daylight. Okay get off my case will ya? I'm slow but it was worth experimenting. Back to my thought process here. I assumed that since I was going to be shooting at a shutter speed of at least 1/125 I'd have no need for a tripod. This happened to my first mistake in my outing. I'll get to the second in a bit. Normally when shooting at 125 there is no need for a tripod as the shutter snaps the picture before a camera shake can be registered. The problem with this theory is that only applies to cameras that are attached with a a 200mm - 500mm lens. As I looked through the view finder, the barrel of the lens was moving as though I was taking a 3 hour trip aboard the SS Minnow. (For those of you younger than me you'll have no idea what that is, and I'm to damn old a cranky to explain it to you.) The point here is that there was WAY to much camera shake (see the first image below)

No tripod

and I knew the results would be sucko. So I trotted inside feeling someone dejected and grabbed my tripod. My tripod is an older Slik tripod Circa 1991 and wasn't bought with a lens this size in mind. I attached the lens to the tripod and attempted to "level" the camera. My poor triod "head" was bending under the added lens weight. I utter a few choice words about my junky, crappy, worthless piece of crap tripod and headed back outside. I wasn't about to let this prevent me from getting my moon shots. While I was sitting there pondering my dilema it occured to me that the moon is round. (Duh!) Who in the world is going to know that it isn't level in the viewfinder? Well with that in mind and a little "lean" on my tripod I started to snap away. The second image is a result of basically using my tripod as a monopod.

With Tripod

So what did I learn from this experience? - I need a better tripod. I'm currently looking at a Gitzo GT3541L 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs - Supports 39.6 lbs (18kg) and to accompany it I also "need" a tripod ball head. On my wishlist is a Gitzo GH3780QR Center Ballhead with Quick Release - Supports 46.2 lbs (21kg). Both can be found and B&H Photo. Enough babble from, until next time. Hasta la bye bye. (Hmmmmmm now what can I DO with this Moon shot??) stay tuned.