Big Bend 2011

Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains and White Sands in January, 2011.

The night shots were taken in Big Bend in a ghost town a stone’s throw away from the Rio Grande. They’re lit with moonlight from roughly a half disc of the moon.

Moonlight looks exactly like sunlight, only it’s literally tens of thousands of times dimmer. That’s really the only difference though. It lights the ground and clouds the same way, the shadows are the same harshness, the bounce light is in the same ratio, it even lights the sky the same way. To take this to extremes, a moonset will produce red colors and clouds on the horizon. So if it looks exactly like daylight, how do you take an interesting picture by moonlight? The only difference is competition with other light sources, in this case stars. That 50,000x difference in intensity is very significant there. You can also treat artificial light sources this way- but these will also very easily overpower your “sun”. We used a flashlight for a few of these pictures for fill light.

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