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Crescent Moon
CREDIT: Alan Hodgson ASIS HonFRPS

Leaders in their field - Warren De La Rue

Studying stuff in moon photography

Confined to my home but for a change in Northern England I have clear skies to occupy me. I have an interest in moon photography and now have a chance to indulge in this. It has also given me a chance to study how photography has changed over the years by looking back at the work of Warren De La Rue.

Back in the 1850s he had to build his own "camera" to do this. It equates to a 3000mm f/9 camera to expose a wet glass plate so telescope, observatory and darkroom had to be combined. His exposure times were around 1-20 seconds for those materials but as coating, exposure and processing had to be done in short succession the exposure was still the shortest of the steps. With a wood burning stove to stoke to keep the darkroom temperature within range and even achieving focus was an art.

A quote from Warren in 1859 is appropriate here "To photograph the moon continuously is a laborious undertaking and affords full occupation for one observer, who must not fail to pay unremitting attention to the condition of the various chemicals employed, so as to be always prepared for a fine night with such as will work"

I was thinking about how photography has changed across its history while watching the  moon through the window of a centrally heated home. I picked up the Nikon D750, slipped on a 300mm f/4.5 lens and chose an ISO speed of 1250 in room light and comfort. Opening the door I grabbed the shot in 1/400 seconds and viewed the result in seconds.

It has set me on a journey studying stuff around how the changes in equipment, materials and intent have changed across the ages. I hope you will join me in the journey.