Often times a bright moon at night is unwanted by photographers that want to capture the night sky as the moonlight overwhelms most of the star light in the sky. But one evening years ago while camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park during a full moon, I really enjoyed seeing the mountains lit only by moonlight. The color was still there and some of the stars could be seen above and I had never really seen it like that before.
When out at Big Bend last week, I took my daughter to an overlook with great view of the desert and mountains below and most of the sky from horizon to horizon. I have been to this overlook to shoot the night sky in the past. The moon was approaching full and was very bright in the night sky, so the landscape had a similar look to as I remembered from years ago. So, I photographed it.
First below is a photo from the overlook at dawn a couple of mornings later. This photo shows the desert and mountains by morning light.
Next up is the photo I took by the light of the moon.
It is not the most beautiful landscape image, but I really like having the color of the landscape and the night sky. I am used to night landscape images featuring the glorious stars above and a landscape that is mostly shades of dark grey. I suppose I could merge two images together to feature both, but the above image is what was there and it is a single exposure with no Photoshop magic applied.
You can see that the dusty air really scatters the moonlight if you look at the horizon and this does block out the lower stars. Even when it is calm out there, the air is a bit dusty which gives the horizon a warm color gradient after sunset.
You can also see that the stars have run a little in the photo if you look closely. It was a 30 second exposure at 24mm. I used such a long exposure to keep the ISO lower (640) as I was mainly trying to capture the landscape and not as focused on the sky.
Thanks for reading.