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How to Photograph a Silhouette in Front of a Giant Moon

In January of 2013 German photographer, Philipp Schmidli, got it into his mind that he wanted to photograph the full moon with a subject walking in front of it so to give the moon scale. He began scouting locations from the comfort of his office using Google Earth and was eventually able to settle on the perfect location after making a couple trips to are in person. What he didn’t know at the time was that his adventure in full moon photography would carry on well into the summer and evolve from an image of a friend cross country skiing through the scene into a replication of sorts of the popular film ET’s movie poster which is shown below.

Remind you a bit of ET?

After a few failed attempts to further perfect the image he captured in January, the photographer carried on his quest. After a few failed attempts in February and March due to uncooperative weather, Schmidli rounded up a friend in April to act as the subject of his photo, this time bicycling through the moon rather than skiing. When he posted April’s image to his blog, readers instantly began comparing the image to the movie poster for ET. While not his original intention, Schmidli noticed the similarities and vowed to make yet another full moon photograph, this time with the famous ET scene on his mind.

Wen August rolled around, Schmidli was ready to take a crack at getting the ET replica shot made. Since the moons exact location in the sky is ever changing, after making some slight modifications to the location in which the shoot would take place, Schmidli asked three cyclist and some assistants to make the trek to the remote location.

The photoshoot required some heavy lifting across the mountainside.

This time, with three cyclist and ramp involved in the shoot, preparing the set was no easy task.

To get the shot, Schmidli set up his Canon EOS-1D XCanon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USMCanon Extender EF 2x II, tripod, and a useful Garmin GPS eTrex 30 unit in a second location.

The red circle indicates the location of the moonrise and cyclists.

The 800mm zoom lens paired with the 2x teleconverter gave the photographer a combined focal length of 1600mm. In an effort to make the moon appear even larger than in his first attempts at the full moon photo, Schmidli increased the distance between the moon and the subject by 1000 meters from 300 in the January image to 1300 meters for this shoot.

The addition of the basket on the bike was also new to the August image and was intended to replicate the basket that ET rode in.

Adding a stuffed animal to the basket created the perfect silhouette.

Test runs were made continuously throughout the quick moonrise.

Each cyclist made about 3 runs up the ramp before the moon had risen too high. Luckily Schmidli was able to get the shot in time. Using a lot of planning, preparation, and critical thinking Schmidli was able to pull off the final image without using Photoshop.

[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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