Clear Winter’s Night

Birdfeeder & winter garden by moonlight
Birdfeeder and winter garden by moonlight

Last night when Brian and went to the kitchen for an evening snack we looked out the window to the garden and were surprised to see moonlight casting shadows. It was crisp and cold (mid 30s F), which is when we tend to get clear skies in the winter. I set up my tripod, mounted my camera, grabbed my puffy coat and a warm hat, and headed outside. The view above is from our patio, very much like what we saw from the kitchen window.

Island bed, winter, by moonlight
One of our island perennial beds by moonlight
Pacific Willow at edge of lawn, winter by moonlight
Our giant pacific willow (Populus trichocarpa) glows under the winter moonlight

I wandered around the yard a bit with my camera. Since the sun had been down for nearly four hours it was quite dark outside. I set my camera to ISO 8000 to keep exposure times down to a few seconds. The challenge was that with only an electronic viewfinder and rear display there wasn’t enough light to see what the camera was seeing. I basically composed blind — aim in the right direction and guess at the angle above or below level, expose a frame, then adjust as necessary. I tossed all the less interesting compositions. Amazingly, with the built-in infrared autofocus assist light the camera was mostly able to find focus in the near darkness.

Home, by moonlight
Our home, seen from the garden by moonlight

I photographed our home under the moonlight, too, before heading back inside to warm up and stow my camera away.

Trees and clouds by moonlight
Trees in our back border silhouetted against clouds

Nearly an hour later, about 9 pm, we took another look out the kitchen window and saw that a few clouds had moved in, glowing above the trees on our back border. I couldn’t resist getting my camera out again and returning to the yard for another photo.

For you technically-inclined folks, these photos were made with a Sony A6300 mirrorless camera, ISO 3200 or ISO 8000, 16-70mm lens at 16mm. They’ve had minimal processing (including noise reduction) in Adobe Lightroom before sharing them here.

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