On the negative side 4

self-portrait by light of rising moon on Indian River Lagoon
Right at the moment, most of the current images I have to feature are more insects, and even I believe there’s a limit, while there are few other topics that I feel motivated to tackle, so we’re going archive here. I keep thinking I’m going to attempt this technique again, but it’s been something like 13 years now and I haven’t done it yet…

This is me, standing on the edge of the Indian River Lagoon back when I lived in Florida – judging from the sweatshirt, it was probably in fall or winter sometime, but that’s the best I can say. This is a ten-minute exposure, shot by the light of the newly-rising full moon, still orange from being close to the horizon. Yes, this meant I had to hold perfectly still for ten minutes straight, and as you can see if you look close at my head, I wasn’t quite there. And this is despite the fact that I had a small twig on the tree I’m leaning against, resting against my skull behind my ear, so I could tell when I was twitching my head. Should have used duct tape I suppose…

By the way, you can forget about the idea of picking a point to look at and thinking that will keep your head steady – your head can move all over the place while your eyes track the same point, and you will never know just how much you’ve changed position. If you want to try this, it’s probably best to rest your head back against something, preferably something that cradles it even slightly so you can tell when you’re leaning to one side or another – something more than a wall, in other words. Don’t worry about the brief period of time triggering the camera when you’re not in the frame, or walking back out of it to close the shutter again; in dim light, these movements will barely register at all, not when ten minutes only produced this much of an exposure.

If you’re on the ball, you already surmised that this is aiming north, for two reasons. The first is that, speaking of a newly-risen moon, that could only be to the right if the camera were facing north, and the second is that the stars show little movement during the exposure, meaning they were very close to one of the poles – since I already mentioned Florida, the south polar stars are not visible from that latitude so it must be the north polar stars. Stars near the equator, or the ecliptic plane if you prefer, would show a lot more motion – in fact, I’m fairly certain this image was taken on the same night, certainly the same location, just aimed entirely differently. Note that both of these images were for the same period of exposure.

So if you like, give it a shot (says the guy posting this just as we reach new moon, knowing the full moon isn’t available for another two weeks – yeah, my timing could be better.) Wear a paler shirt, though…

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