Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Moon Rising
Nikon D3400, 55-300mm Nikon lens @ F5.6, 1/30s, ISO200, 300mm

with Peter Maiden

Peter, tell us about yourself and your photography journey…

I’ve appreciated great photos from a young age; the best ones I collected from newspapers and magazines and put in a scrapbook. Unfortunately, my own attempts to take great images generally ended up as miserable failures, with many a film wasted. My family still reminds me of my classic shot of Big Ben with only half the clock face in it.

It transpired that I had really wonky eyes and was suffering from RP (basically tunnel vision). I became legally blind with less than 5-degree field of vision in middle age. I kept trying to take photos but even point and shoot digital cameras didn’t really work for me.

When I retired seven years ago, my daughter lent me her DSLR camera and lo and behold; I could see through the viewfinder and more importantly, the photos turned out OK. Even when I did get things wrong, nobody had to see it, and there was no wasted film.

Photography then became a retirement hobby, and I was presented with a challenge from my daughter to post a new photo every day on Instagram. That was a good challenge that I've kept up to this day as it motivates me to keep looking for things to photograph.

Being visually impaired is a real pain, but I don’t let that hinder my efforts. In some ways, it raises awareness of the photographic opportunities that are out there and keeps me looking for things to shoot. Also, because my view of the world is ‘heavily cropped’, it enables me to have a ‘singular focus without the peripheral distractions’.

How would you describe your photography, is there a genre you’re most passionate about?

I don’t really have a photography style as I’m always looking to capture beautiful (even ugly is beautiful) and interesting things; anything goes. I’m fortunate to have Wellington’s south coast as my backyard, which provides an unlimited range of subject matter.

Saying that, looking at the images I have had printed and which hang on the wall at home, it seems I have an affection for black and white photos and abstract/arty photos of things like wet stones on a beach.

What photography gear do you have?

Currently, I’m shooting with a Nikon D3400 with a Nikon 18-55mm lens, a Nikon 55-300mm lens for telephoto work and a Nikon 10-20mm lens for wide-angle shots. I also have a few filters and a tripod. It might be ‘old tech’, but it works for me.

I’ve also taken some awesome shots with my Samsung Galaxy S20 phone. It’s amazing the advances that have been made in phone camera technology. There’s an old saying that the best camera is the one you have at the time!

Tell us about your photo, ‘Moon Rising’...

I love sitting out on our deck watching a full moon rise over the houses on the ridge top on the other side of Island Bay, especially at twilight when there is still a reasonable amount of light in the sky.

Last November (2021), I got all excited when I heard there would be a near-total lunar eclipse, and the moon would rise shortly after sunset. Better still, it would rise in the northeast, which would be over the houses.

I’ve taken many shots of the moon rising over the years, but a lunar eclipse would be special, even more so when the eclipse would be in its early stage. All I needed was a cloud-free evening.

The time came, and after a few test shots to get a feel for the required camera settings, I waited in eager anticipation for the moon to come up. A passing cloud thankfully went away, and after five minutes of patting our dog, the moon started to appear over the rooftops, and I started shooting away.

I was thrilled to see how much of the moon was in the earth’s shadow, making the photo more interesting.

After getting the shot I was after, I made myself a coffee and stayed out on the deck watching and shooting the eclipse as it played out. The moon was pretty reddish at its peak, not as much as I expected, but still beautiful.

What editing did you do to this shot?

I mainly use Snapseed on an iPad for ease of use for editing. The image was a bit on the dark side, so I lightened it up slightly while adding some contrast to the houses and the ridgetop as well as smoothing the sky. After a bit of sharpening, I finally cropped it square, which I felt highlighted the moon better.

Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?

From experience, changing shutter speed is the key setting to capturing the detail of the moon. I seemed to get that about right for this shot, but on reflection, I shouldn’t have been lazy and should have gone full manual instead and maybe changed the aperture setting.

Where can we find you online?