Photography, the moon and Siouxland

11 Aug

I teach a few adult photo classes at a local community college in Siouxland. My emphasis for a class in learning how to shoot better photographs is not about learning how an individual camera works, but understanding the fundamentals that all cameras share, film or digital. The three basics are aperture, shutter speed and the ISO settings. Those three in combination create the exposure the camera takes. But getting to that point depends on what the person making the exposure is trying to photograph or capture.  Those three items in conjunction with one another just allow an individual to express his/her way of seeing or “vision”. And achieving that vision involved composition, lighting, framing and a number of other variables.  With the newer digital cameras, one such consideration is the use of the white balance feature all cameras have. These two different moon shots taken early one morning help illustrate one variable that a photographer can use. And while it is subtle, it can be quite helpful.

Morning Moon Morning Moon


The first photograph of the moon is taken with the white balance set on tungsten or the light bulb setting. The color temperature for it is around 3400 Kelvin (which is a discussion all its own), while the second photograph is taken with the white balance setting on the cloudy bright setting, more associated with daylight. These two photographs were taken at 6 a.m. Color temperature is something to keep in mind when photographing various times of the day. The color temp is usually warmer (2800-3400) early morning and early evening when the sun is rising and setting. As the day progresses, the color temperature rises towards the 5600K setting which is normally the daylight hours after sunrise and before sunset.  Sometimes when doing a portrait of a person, the photographer can set the white balance to tungsten and use a flash or incandescent lighting balanced to tungsten to light the person, and photograph that person against a window or outdoors, which will create a much bluer background setting while the subject is looking warmer, thus creating a nice portrait.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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