I have been on a hunt for a specific shot for several years now. It’s been a photographic challenge to capture the moon; not just the moon but a full moon as it rises. This task is made difficult for a number of reasons. First, the moon is full every 28 days. Second, it’s rotation around the earth as the earth rotates means the moon may be full and rise during bright daylight. Third, in a month when it will be visible in darker hours, sky conditions may conceal it altogether. And, knowing where exactly on the horizon it will appear is difficult to know for sure. Last summer, I caught the moon at Sandbar Lake just a little late. The post is here.
The best light for moon pictures is at dawn or dusk. The darker the sky the brighter the moon will appear and the more blown out in a picture. Sunrise and sunset data is readily available on weather site. Moon rise and set is a little harder to find. Where it will rise relative to where you are is even more difficult to determine. I’ve found an amazing application (free for desktop and $8.99 for smart phones) called The Photographer’s Ephermeris. This app allows you to pinpoint your location anywhere in the world for any day and it will give you the angle and time of both sun and moon rise and set. Here’s the screen shot from my desktop yesterday when I pinned the west shore of Sandbar Lake not far from my home. I was hoping there would be an attractive foreground and not too distant lake shore for my shot.
With the app on my iPhone, tripod and flashlight added to my camera gear, my happy hound and I headed up the gravel road about 20 minutes before the estimated moon rise time. The shoreline of Sandbar is not readily accessed along this west side. A short walk through the brush brought me to the shore approximately where I pinned. With the compass in the app pointed north, I realized the angle would be directly along the shore I was on. I had my rubber boots on so headed north along the lake edge just in the water. Turns out my boots were just a little shorter than the water was deep! Ah, the price we pay to get the shot we want. Finally, I found a bit of a bay and set up. And waited.
The pictures don’t truly show how dark it was. Finding my way back down the shore and through the bush would not have been possible without my flashlight and four-legged companion, Lindor!
Photo tip: Next time (I still want more) I will bring a second tripod and camera body so I don’t have to fumble around to switch lenses. The moon rises relatively quickly and with darkness descending even more quickly, I wasn’t able to get set with the bigger lense. Next full moon is Oct 29….