Moon over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Moon over Yosemite Valley

Claudia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas! And happy first day of Hanukkah! We hope you have a wonderful holiday, full of peace, joy, and the love of family and friends.

I made this photograph on the same night as the moonrise from Gates of the Valley image in my last post. After leaving the Gates I headed up to Tunnel View. For some reason I thought the moon would be behind Cathedral Rocks from there, but instead the moon was plainly visible right over the valley. I would usually avoid photographing right into the moon, for the same reasons I would usually avoid photographing right into the sun: a high probability of lens flare, and extreme contrast. But on that night the backlit mist and clouds were beautiful, so I gave it a try.

Again I bracketed exposures, but in the end I only used one frame. I decided that detail in the moon itself wasn’t necessary, so I worked with one of the lighter exposures in my bracketing sequence (4 seconds at f/4, 3200 ISO) which had good detail in the clouds and mist. Lightroom’s Highlights and Shadows tools made it easy to balance the contrast and bring out detail in the darkest and lightest tones. There’s obviously a lot of flare around the moon, but I thought the flare actually added something to the photograph. (I also cloned out one small reddish spot of flare.)

Although there’s no snow in this image, Claudia and I thought it had a Christmas feeling. If I squint I can almost see some reindeer and a sleigh flying by!

— Michael Frye