A few years back, in 2007, I lived in Ukraine. Never more than a few months at a time, law forbid! We were staying in a small village in the north east of Ukraine called Dubinka. Villages in Ukraine are worth visiting, although a full-time life there will seem to be very hard.

In Dubinka, there is only limited electricity, no running water and no gas. If you say no running water, that also means that you have to go to the “outhouse” whenever nature calls…

On one of the mornings we were there, at 6AM, nature called :-( On the first of May, you could expect to have decent temperatures, but this morning the weather gods decided to make a difference. After nature had been taken care of, I was so cold that going back to bed was really not an option. I had to get dressed and do something to get warm. So I went out for a walk, with my camera. The first thing I noticed when I got out the first time, was that it was misty. Perfect for some pictures.

Here is a view of the kitchen garden behind the house:

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The sun was just getting up, it was just after 6AM (didn’t I mention that already?) As a kitchen garden it doesn’t look much, but it feeds the family all year round, believe me.

Near the end of the garden there is a small pond, not very deep and not very large. Looking at the mist over the water, there is no doubt that this can give you nice pictures.

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People telling me that with a P&S camera you cannot take beautiful pictures and that you really need a DSLR to get decent pictures, well, they should be thinking again.

Last month we had 2 full moons during the month. This is a fairly common phenomenon, knowing that the moon has a cycle of 27.5 days and months are in general 30.5 days. A double full moon will so happen every 2.5 years in general. They can happen in any month, except February.

Here is a picture of the second full moon of December 2009. Also the last one, it occurred at 7:23PM here in Winnipeg.

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Now this does not look much like a picture, but taking shots of the full moon is not as simple as it looks.

If we let our cameras do the work, after all we bought them to be intelligent, then we end up with pictures that overexpose the moon. Leaving only a white dot or circle to contemplate.

Even if we try to use spot metering (good choice) then it’s close, but no cigar… The spot in our cameras is about 5 times the size of the full moon and so will still meter too much darkness.

Now let’s try something else. Set the camera to Manual and use a diaphragm of f/11. Set your ISO to 100, shutter speed to 1/100sec and focus. Sometimes the auto-focus will work, better to believe your own eyes here. Now, you will say: “I don’t have 100 ISO on my camera, it starts at 200.” Ok, then use ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/200. Same result.

Now press the shutter. Voila! You have a clear picture of the full moon. Now if you want to do the same with half moon or New moon, you will have to adjust your settings a bit but the principle remains the same.

The principle is called the Moony 11, and is a little brother of the old Sunny 16 rule.

Sh** ! Yesterday I went on a shoot and forgot to check the bracketing on my camera. Taking standard pictures (one at a time) I got only one third correctly exposed. And I only noticed it when uploading them to my computer. Bracketing is wonderful, except when it starts to mess up your exposure, like one correct (as metered) then one underexposed then one over exposed. At first I though my lens’s diaphragm got stuck in the cold. After all it was around –20C… Then checking the camera settings at home I found that the bracketing was still set to “on”.

Oh well, I suppose I will never forget this setting again (wishful thinking) Happily Lightroom can correct a lot of things, and I was shooting in RAW. Damage limited but the extra work was a little too much.