I shot the base images a couple of weeks ago, during the last full moon.
Several years ago, digital imaging gave me some direct feedback that was really hard to argue with… an accurate exposure of the full moon will be (depending on atmospheric variables) somewhere around 1/60 second at f/8 at ISO 100. As noted, there is some fudge-factor built in here, but that has turned out to be a reliable rule of thumb.
In other words, the full moon is freakin’ bright. Far brighter than we expect it to be. Even robust attempts at artificial lighting by we earthlings literally pale in comparison.
On a clear night, our eyes can resolve details on the face of the moon that are pretty amazing, given the distance. Using a pair of decent binoculars will yield even more granular detail, but many of us will start to squint, having become used to the ambient darkness.
But our eyes and brains work together in an amazing ballet that keeps re-computing and re-resolving the available illumination at a rate that no current technology really can in a single frame.
All of which makes photocomposites necessary to create a reasonably convincing facsimile of what we can really put together in our own heads.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) image compilation software offers solutions for many situations, but not this one. The moon moves too quickly. I shot a series of nine exposures in hopes of being able to combine them into a single frame, but there was just too much motion between frames to make that possible. So it was back to an advanced version of cut and paste to get to what’s shown here.