Cuchara by Moonlight

November 24, 2015  •  1 Comment

I have been wanting to try capturing some images under moonlight, and last night was the perfect opportunity. It was the night before the full moon, the skies were completely clear, and the temperature was in the mid-30s with almost no wind. I headed down toward La Veta to my favorite view of the Cuchara Valley and Culebra Range. I moved around quite a bit and tried using a wide-angle lens to get more stars, but I settled on using the 35 mm. The image below was from about the fifth different spot I shot from and is my favorite image from the night. I love the contrast of the snow-covered mountains between the dark forest and sky, and the stars almost look like falling snowflakes.

Moonlit Cuchara Valley35 mm, 10 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 This was my first attempt at capturing moonlit landscapes, and I was fooled by the LCD on the camera and the darkness and underexposed by quite a bit. This photo is a 10 second exposure, but probably should have been 40 to 60 seconds. When I reviewed the images in the field, the whole scene was bright, but at home on the computer all of my images were very dark. I should have been looking at the histogram on the camera and not the preview image-lesson learned. On the other hand, the stars look great because of the short exposure time. If I had taken a longer exposure, the stars would have turned into short streaks, and I would have needed to create a composite of 2 images to have the stars look good.

After about 2 hours of walking around ans exploring by moonlight, I was getting cold and decided to head back home. But the view of Yellow Pine Ranch with the ski area and Trinchera as a backdrop was too good, so I stopped again.

Yellow Pine Ranch35 mm, 10 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400

Seeing the lit houses at Yellow Pine made me think it would be nice to get a similar shot of the village from above, so I stopped again at Lubbock Hill hoping I could see the lights on the Dog Bar and Timbers. Unfortunately, there's not a good view of the village from above on that road (and the lights weren't on anyway) so I didn't get that picture. But I noticed some aspens glowing in the moonlight and snapped a few more images before going home.

Aspens14 mm, 10 sec, f/4, ISO 400


Gary and Kathy Metheny(non-registered)
Quit your day job.
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