Admiring the Universe - a fine-art photographer based in Perthshire, Scotland, with interests in landscape, nature and astrophotography

Full ("Blue") Moon Rising, Dunnottar Castle

Full ("Blue") Moon Rising, Dunnottar Castle
Colloquially (with more precise definitions being available), the second full moon in a calendar month is known as a blue moon; it coinciding with Hallowe'en only happens once every 19 years.

There are multiple mini-headlands either side from which to view the castle. Having walked the cliff-top path to the Memorial and back and sheltered in the car, I checked an app to see the moon just below the horizon, so set forth to brave the elements once again. Starting with the cliffs to the right, there wasn't much moon to be seen behind the clouds and compositions were suboptimal, so I returned to the bridge over the end of the gorge and waited. Over the course of half an hour or so, the clouds skittered past in interesting patterns and the moon rose clear of the castle, bathing the landscape in silvery light.

Technicalities: this is an extreme HDR image; retaining detail in the full moon and shadowy rocks simultaneously is a dynamic range of nearly 23EV. I shot two HDR sequences, both 5 * ?3EV centred on ISO3200, f/3.5, 1/8s.
Processing is similarly extreme: I averaged all the images together using imagemagick, ran multiple tonemapping algorithms in LuminanceHDR, blended the results in Affinity, where I also finalized the tonality and added some dodging and burning.

Despite visiting the castle many times over the years, I've never really been happy with a composition made along the gorge, so I'm particularly gratified that this worked out well - even including rim-lighting as the moonlight shimmers through the grass.


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