Supermoon Photoshoot at 1620mm with Nikon V3 By Joe Marquez

joetitlemoon

Supermoon Photoshoot at 1620mm with Nikon V3

By Joe Marquez – see his website at http://www.thesmokingcamera.com

(from Steve: This is one of the coolest posts I have placed here in a long time…love it! Thank you Joe for the beautiful work and showing what the Nikon 1 system is capable of)

A couple of months ago, while out shooting with the mirrorless Nikon V3 and 70-300cx lens (189-810mm equivalent field of view – FOV), I noticed a hiker on a nearby ridge top – and a beautiful, bright moon above. I took a few shots and was quite pleased with the results. The V3 and it’s tiny sensor does surprisingly well in good light. Now I wondered how it would look if I attached a super telephoto lens and photographed the hiker directly in front of the moon. What about a ballerina silhouette? I decided to find out.

As you may know, the Nikon V3’s one-inch sensor results in the equivalent of a 2.7 increase in FOV. In essence when a Nikon FX lens is attached via the Ft-1 adapter, the V3 becomes a 2.7 teleconverter with no loss of light. Thus a 600mm lens becomes 1620mm.

Initially my plan was to photograph a single ballerina in front of the super moon. However, I began considering everything that could go wrong: weather, inability to focus at night, DOF issues, instability, inaccessibility and of course all the unforeseen inevitable mistakes I normally make. So I decided to increase the number of shoots to insure I would get a decent image or two.

Now I had to get my hands on a $10,000 Nikon 600mm f4 lens. So, I went to the only camera store in Hawaii with uber cool rental equipment, told them about my project and they agreed to sponsor my efforts. Here’s a formal thank you to Hawaii Camera (www.hawaiicamera.com) for supporting this little moon project of mine.

Using a number of online programs I determined optimum times and locations to photograph the moon as it crossed the ridge. And because the ridge runs north south I was able to shoot as the moon rose in the east and several hours later as it set in the west. Thus, everyday I had two opportunities at the moon. So over the course of a week I planned fourteen separate photo shoots. Only later I realized, I didn’t factor in time for sleep. Oh well, can’t think of everything.

I then called upon many friends – models, performers, cosplayers, ballerinas and dancers as well as fellow photographers to assist. Altogether 43 people were involved in this moon project. Call times ranged from late afternoon to early morning before sunrise. Most participants had to hike the steep ridge at night with headlamps. We required a spotter or assistant for safety and we communicated via two-way radios or cell phone. One cosplayer’s outfit weighs 133 pounds and required ten trips to get the costume into position. A super thank you to everyone who participated.

While the models and spotters were climbing the ridge, I and an assistant down below had to deal with traffic, trees, wires, poles, houses, basketball players, dogs, golfers and sprinklers.

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In the end everyone had a fun and unique experience and a good number of wonderful photos. In addition, I learned a tremendous amount about shooting the moon. Foremost is the moon moves so quickly when viewed at 1620mm there is often only a moment or two to get the shot. Secondly, the moon has quite a variety of looks due to clouds, time of day or night and so on and I had to constantly and quickly change my exposure settings. Finally, the Nikon V3 did an excellent job on this project and I wouldn’t hesitate using this little camera for other super telephoto projects.

In fact next month at full moon, I plan to again use the Nikon V3 and experiment with lighting, fashion, a bride in her wedding dress, video and a surprise or two. Amazing what is possible when you utilize a camera’s strength to its fullest.

81 Comments

  1. Again, I wish to thank everyone for such positive comments. And thanks again to my talented models, dancers, performers, participants and incredible assistants who made this possible.

  2. Great idea and splendid group effort so to say. I wonder if there will be any noticeable difference when using a V1/V2/AW1. The V3 is overpriced in my opinion, the micro SD slot is a real joke as is the missing EVF but that is just gear talk which should not detract from the results. Thanks Joe!

  3. Really beautiful Joe. To echo Vinny, perhaps you could shoot during October 8th’s blood moon. Looks like Hawaii’s in the sweet spot for this red lunar eclipse.

  4. Can I say thanks again to you guys? My V1 died (my fault) and after rescuing the card and getting the photos off it I debated if to go to micro 4/3, get a V2 or a V3. In the end, the wonderful 18 mm normal lens (which is on the camera 90% of the time) and the ability to use DX zooms won out. Needless to say, the local Kiwi dealers have sold me a V3 (note to other kiwis, the local prices are competative and include the EVF)

    And I still think this is an incredible project. I like the daylight (sunset) pictures in particular.

    • When my friend Keoni suggested a samurai, I had some doubts – until I saw the awesome outfit and props. He took it to a whole new level. I was so impressed I took some video as well. Could be epic.

  5. These are so good that If I hadn’t seen your work before I’d have thought they were photoshopped composites of silhouettes on top of a moon shot.

    The other thing to note about the V3 is that it wasn’t just 1620mm equivalent but 1620mm equivalent and 20 fps continious shooting…on some of the shots it look like that might have been handy. Otherwise you’re just insanely good.

    Are those WWII observation bunkers they are standing on?

    • Thanks nht. Yes wwII bunkers. Didn’t shoot at 20fps, but for some I did shoot at 6 or 10fps. For action (e.g. ballet, which I shoot regularly), it is better to get a well timed single shot instead of rapid fire shooting and miss the high point. Fortunately the V3 response time is similar to the D4 and that is a good thing. The models are truly insanely good, not I.

      • Okay, insanely good then. 🙂

        Actually I was thinking more the whip and ribbon shots more than the dancers. For ballet I generally know where they will be and how high they’ll jump.

        I guess it’s also true for the whip and ribbon if I’ve seen the performance before but they just move faster.

  6. Wonderful imagination Joe.
    Viking is my fave like invader from the moon.

    Your supermoon silhouettes made me reconsider my photos.
    I realised a few memorable are for me more worthwhile than the thousands I have taken.

    Best regards Joe.

  7. Your Cast of Characters is incomplete – nice Moon, but nowhere do we see a cat and fiddle, a jumping cow, a barking dog or even a perambulatory dish and spoon. I am like so disappointed. Can we perhaps look forward to seeing these sometime?

    • Good point and you are correct – my cast of characters is incomplete. I definitely have ideas for future shoots and would love to hear more from you.

  8. Add me to the list of those very impressed with your concept, follow-through and results! We don’t often find anything unique these days, way to go!

  9. Very cool results.

    I’ve done some experiments with shooting objects or silhouettes in front of the moon, and I was always really frustrated by how soft the moon looks when you aren’t focussed at infinity. There’s just so much fascinating detail there screaming out to be revealed.

    Did you consider taking some stationary shots without the model in front actually focussed on the moon and compositing them together? I think that would have a really dramatic effect. Even more so than the shots that you’ve got here.

    Just a thought!

    • Thanks Andrew. For this project no desire of compositing and in fact the full moon is probably one of the least interesting phases just because of no side lighting and lack of interesting shadows. Nevertheless, an advantage of a one inch sensor is greater DOF. Not enough to keep a silhouette and moon in focus at 1620mm, but my guess is in all cases I was able to get more moon detail by using the small CX sensor instead of a DX or FX.

  10. Wonderful! Not only do you have a vibrant imagination but you also have a lot of resolve and energy. I bow to you. 😉 The Nikon 1 series is, I think, Nikon’s best system. Their sensors perform better than you’d think, and because the cameras are mirrorless, they allow immense flexibility. I think you truly exploited the small sensor and long lens. It’s good to see someone really make a camera system work.

    IMO, their DX and FX DSLRs are made redundant by Sony, Olympus etc. But the CX platform is unique and practical, especially with a dedicated UW camera. I do wonder why press and sports photographers are still lugging around DSLRs. Cameras like the V3 do effectively the same job while being more portable, among other advantages.

    I have seen similar photos achieved with either slide sandwiches or (yawn) compositing in software. The very fact that these were all in-camera adds to their charm. If they were just composites… they’d still be nice, but I wouldn’t bother giving them more than a quick glance.

  11. Nice idea and some shot impressive, but a lot of post production and some are not a photos but graphic works.
    I can’t continue to read people that talk about focal multiplier rather than a “CROP”! isn’t 1620mm, it’s only a 600mm on a 35mm cropped surface; the same shot on a d800 in a crop mode was not so different, because less dpi resolution but even less micro movements and more image quality.
    And the same even if you use a lower dpi sensor, less digital zoom but ..more quality per pixel and more possibility of resizing (more iso possibility, so more possibility on a real optic multiplier, and so on…)

    So….DON’T SAY IS 1620….it’s a 600mm on a very little sensor, that’s it! even if the relative angle may be equal isn’t a 1620mm on leica format, or a man can make a shot with a ff taking only 4×4 pixel in the center and talk about 2311230423mm….

    Why a photographer never think to a digital zoom on a compact camera or on a video camera is a usable or a good thing ….and think that a croped sensor is a good multiplier?

    Anyway very nice idea, just post images…without descriptions about camera or optics….thats photography the rest is only marketing.

    • it IS indeed a 1620 EQUIVALENT focal length. The lens is 600mm, and that will not change. But the magnification does, giving you an equivalent 1620mm focal length or field of view. Yes, 600mm on a 1″ sensor will do this. If you do not like to read what camera was used or lens or gear, then why are you here? That is what this site is about and has been since day one. USING DIFFERENT AND REVIEWING different gear. Thank you.

      • Steve I’m sorry, I just expressed an opinion on a point which is a wrong information.
        so it feeds a mistaken belief, the magnification is purely digital and is the same that would be obtained by cutting the image of a machine with larger sensor and the same density.
        The only factor that in part allows you to zoom in information while maintaining the density, but this leads to other problems related to noise, at the time of shooting (shake-) that clearly invalidate on the iso and then the definition.
        For this reason, in my opinion, should sensitize the user to not think about the crop as a multiplier, because this is only partly true.

        Looking the shots I can see some amazing image, some too much “postproduced” but most are really great for my eyes (b/n).
        And the biggest plus I think that is the project, the idea, the result would be the same with other equipment.

        I hope my post has not offended anyone

  12. Joe, you obviously have a much smarter V3 than I have. My V3 shots are perfectly average, but your stuff is bloody brilliant. And this set tops everything you’ve shown here so far. Hats off, amigo. One question: how did you handle focus, which I think might be a little tricky under the circumstances of this shoot?

    • Thanks Don. Focus was handled several ways on the V3. Sometimes I prefocused before the moon was in position, sometimes I was able to autofocus during the shoot and sometimes out of necessity I had to manually focus. By the end of the project I was a little more experienced and comfortable with V3 manual focus.

  13. Never seen such amazing photographs they are so good one can just look and look again and again. They look so simple and uncomplicated yet they are not simple and certainly not uncomplicated with the logistics that surrounded the shoot. Brilliant you have made my day.

    • Thanks Alan. Oh the logistics! Preparation notes, spreadsheets, phone lists, group emails, facebook secret pages etc. At any moment I was in learning mode from what I just finished shooting, preparing logistics for the next shoot in a few hours and organizing and making adjustments for upcoming shoots in a day or two. Really a fun project!

  14. OMG!! This is the best post I have ever seen. Anywhere. Of course it’s great to see what the Nikon 1 can do but more than that, I’m super impressed with the idea, the planning, the execution and the results! I’ve seen what Joe can do on Flickr and on the dpreview Nikon 1 forum so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. But still, wow!

  15. WOW! This might be the coolest post on this page in 2014! I love the idea and admire your capacity to play on the strenghts of your camera. This would not be the same with a large sensor camera as the Nikon 800 and such. Very well done!

  16. Holy smokes, Joe. These are amazing. You are a master of light, composition and creativity. I am sure many are taking notice at these pics…brilliant!

  17. Very appreciative of your kind comments everyone. Too bad I don’t have BTS video of me running across a private golf course (with 600mm lens on tripod) after I miscalculated a moonrise location. Or standing in a private driveway at 3am trying to explain to neighbors what I was doing. Or having sprinklers suddenly
    turn on or dogs barking at all hours of the night. Quite an experience.

  18. Holy cow, Joe!! This is simply fantastic and surreal. Even the daylight photo is wonderful. Congrats on your incredible work and to the great team of volunteers. Hopefully you will have a few gallery shows across the country so we can see this work in person. You might consider contacting the Verve Gallery in Santa Fe.
    Cheers,
    Bob

  19. Super cool. I have seen at least one of these on your Flickr stream, yes? The girl with the surf-board?

    Anyway… love what you do with the Nikon 1. Thanks for sharing.

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