Changing Sunlight into Moonlight in Photography

Shooting in moonlight adds an ethereal, blue look to an image. However, it’s not easy to shoot and difficult to control. In this short video, Jay P Morgan shows us how to set up a studio scenario to simulate moonlight:

The idea is to have the light coming from the window, to have the appearance of moonlight and to achieve this, Jay carries out the following steps:

  • Rather than setting the white balance on the camera for the light in the window, he sets it to 3,200 degrees. This throws the window light very blue.
  • The first light is set to rim light the model but not spill too much onto the male model positioned by the window.
  • The strobe light is covered with an orange gel to counteract the 6,000 degree normal balance of the light. and keep the female model the correct color.
  • The key light is set low and directed toward the female model’s face. Again, an orange gel is used for color balance. This is also pointed away from the background.
  • Jay uses a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second and an aperture of f/9 to keep the window and male model in focus.
sunlight moonlight photo

Setup to Simulate Moonlight for a Photo Shoot

The images are then manipulated using Nik Color Efex.

The final images are great example of this technique. The correctly balanced female model contrasts well against the moody, blue background.

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2 responses to “Changing Sunlight into Moonlight in Photography”

  1. Nice pictures adding in this blog, I think the girl was drinking so much wine..

  2. kurt dreas says:

    In the old days, when we all used b/w film, to turn daylight into moon light,
    we merely stopped down 4-5 stops. it worked just right.

    of course, the direction & texture of the light was important.
    but experience & imagination were always ‘in our camera bags”.

    motivation, pleasing the CLIENT, not ourselves, paid the bills.

    it can also be done outdoors, via a 80a filter on lens,with daylight images.

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