Africa, Ai-Ais, Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Desert Knights Moonlight mountain bike, exposure, Fine Art Photography, full moon, low-light photography, Moon, Moonlight, night time photography, Paul Sutton, Photography, Richtersvelt, South Africa, The story behind the shot, Tourism, Tourism South Africa, Travel, travel photography, Travelling
I love this photograph! Let me start by saying that.
Everything in it is lit by the light of the full moon. All except the stars of course. It’s taken in the Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, in the dead of a rather cold night on the 19th of September last year. A colleague covering the Desert Knights Mountain biking event with me, offered me a remote timer switch, which allows for indefinitely long exposures. I don’t have one of these, so despite it being rather chilly out, and the end of a very long and physically demanding day, I decided to make the most of the full moon and being in the Richtersveld, which has incredibly detail-rich and interesting landscape. It’s not everyday that one gets to be in a place so utterly devoid of urban development.
The remote switch allowed me to take a few exposures that were up to 20 minutes in duration, but I wasn’t happy with the results. Also my stomach was starting to protest and my fingers, despite my best efforts, were rapidly losing their ability to function properly. I decided to use settings similar to other successful night-time landscapes that I’ve made, and programmed the camera for a 30 second exposure. If I remember correctly, I took two similar shots like this. On this particular one, the moon spent roughly half the exposure obscured by a cloud, and the other half not – resulting in the fill-in lighting and harder shadows that you see in the foreground. I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal exposure, because it gave me the hard shadows I wanted for recording the textures, but not so hard that they were under-exposed – and the 30 second shutter duration meant the clouds moved just far along enough to give that hint of momentum in the sky.
As soon as I realised I’d got what I wanted, I packed up and went inside for some grub and conversation about the day’s riding with the cyclists and organisers.
If you happen to be viewing this picture on Facebook or elsewhere, chances are that the image has been scaled down and has lost quite a bit of quality. So do yourself a favour and head on over to my site, here, to see an uncompressed rendition of it.