Last night I tried taking some shots of a cloud moving across a very bright moonlit sky:

enter image description here

The exposure was taken using:

  • Nikon D60
  • Stock 18-55mm VR zoom lense
  • No filters
  • Exposure time: 63 seconds
  • Aperture: 3.5
  • Focal length: 18mm
  • Time shot taken: between 0200 and 0300

What I'm curious about are the trees at the bottom left of the picture which are reddish brown. They aren't in fact red in normal daylight but greyish/silver. It's winter here (Scotland) and the trees have now shed their leaves.

I realise that trees do emit some IR radiation but it was something of a surprise to see this, though not unpleasant.

My initial thoughts were that this is faint light from a far away orange sodium vapour street light, but the trees are too far away from it and only the very tops could get illuminated, if at all.

Can anyone explain what's going on here and how I might compensate against this (a filter?) in the future?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's not the artificial lamp lighting it, could it be sunlight from a very low sun? This question depends on when at night the photo has been taken. Could be that the sun is just so shining over houses, which explains the shadow as well. (And the red tint, because sundown.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Cornelius
    Dec 17, 2013 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cornelius - the shot was taken in the middle of the night. I'm in Scotland, the sun went down at around 430pm :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Kev
    Dec 17, 2013 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


Clearly there is some artificial light affecting the shot. Look at the top of the distant house too, and you'll see that it, also, has a red tint on the roof. And more importantly, there is a distinct shadow line on both the roof (from the roof next door) and on the trees (from the distant roof) that shows that the external source of light is coming in at a fairly low angle, probably just above the height of the house (but it's not easy to tell for sure).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep the more I think about this you're probably right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kev
    Dec 17, 2013 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ The shadow lines really give it away. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2013 at 19:04

If the trees are a grayish tone, it could even be the reflection of the red house roof on the trees. Given a long time exposure the reflection could have been absorbed for a right tint on them.


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