March blue moon

Did you seen the blue moon in January? Did you know there will also be one March 31st?

Although this is not the blue moon nor during the ‘blue hour‘, the very blue scene is the moon rising over an island just off the shore of Lake Superior a little north of Grand Marais, MN. I was fortunate to attend an Outdoor Photography class with Bryan Hansel in early February. Bryan kindly shared some of his incredible knowledge of photography and some of his favourite locations along the north shore. We were thrilled to have a clear night sky for this outing.

I still have much to learn and know better for future shots to lower my ISO in order to have a less grainy image.

I could also upgrade the quality of my equipment…

early bird

It was worth getting up early this morning to catch the lunar eclipse.

A quick glance out the window confirmed the event was actually visible and under way. I had set up the camera and tripod the previous night so I wouldn’t have to fumble with gear at the sleepy hour of 5:30 am. I stepped out on to the landing, pointed the camera at the moon and set about getting a shot. The air was a fresh -10C but reasonably calm; still chilly for one in a fuzzy robe and winter boots. After snapping a couple test shots, I headed back indoors, dressed more warmly and returned for more of the show.

lunar eclipse

A system was moving in and just as the moon was half gone, it was all gone!

about to disappear lunar eclipse

I snuck back inside and curled up on the couch to watch for the cloud cover to break. After about a half hour, I gave up and climbed back into my toasty warm bed.


March Moon

The moon reached fullness March 16th. In anticipation, I kept an eye on the eastern sky the day before, though I wasn’t very diligent (a casual glance out my front door). Then all of a sudden there it was! Although my camera was accessible, I couldn’t locate my tripod so snapped a quick hand held shot. Not bad.

near full moon at sunset

Lesson learned; sort of. I had 25 hours to gather my gear in preparation for the rise the next evening. According to my favourite photography app The Photographer’s Ephemeris, the moon was scheduled to rise an hour later which would make the sky and surroundings darker than the night before. The forecast was for cloud cover by sunset as another snow storm was moving in from the west. An hour before the scheduled moon rise, I headed out to locate a suitable angle for a shot assuming the gap between cloud and horizon would be sufficient. I had all but given up when I noticed a hint of colour.

rising March moon 1
rising March moon 2
rising March moon 3Although I had located and packed my tripod, I didn’t bring my remote shutter which would have given clearer shots.

Photo Tip: When you don’t have a remote shutter, use your camera’s delay shutter option. My camera has a 10 second and 1 second option. I prefer the latter in this type of shot. Your camera should be on a tripod but can be propped up on something. Mittens or a jacket work well to create soft, flexible platform. The brief discomfort in the elements might be worth the shot captured.

I will have to remember that next time.

night light

There are so many beautiful sights in nature during our summer months. It’s difficult to pick favourites but reflections of the moonlight in a lake surface is definitely one of my top ten. Whether glass calm water mirrors the light or a light chop causes the light to dance, it provokes wonder in me.

In my constant hunt for an exceptional moon rise shot and with my trusty The Photographer’s Ephemeris application (which I discussed in this post), I headed out to Raleigh Lake just west of Ignace to scout a location in advance of the May full moon. I was delighted to find a little island between shorelines. The moon was scheduled to rise 40 minutes before  sunset so I knew the moon wouldn’t be very bright in the still lit sky. Sure enough, it rose where I expected and was quite faint. I was still pleased with the angle and foreground/water. Here’s a resulting shot.

moon rise at Raleigh-20130523-6916.jpg

Do you see the moon? Here’s a closer look.

moon rise at Raleigh-20130523-6918.jpg

The schedule for the following day, Friday, May 25 was full moon at 23:24; moonrise at 20:35; sunset at 20:55. The conditions would be better for a brighter moon on the horizon. I brought along a friend and a couple of flashlights so we could help each other find our way back in the pending darkness. Thankfully, the sky was clear (again), the bugs tolerable and the water calm. It was worth the wait!
Here it comes!
moon rise over Raleigh-20130524-6961.jpg

moon rise over raleigh-20130524-6968.jpg

What a night! Could it get better? In a way it did. Take a close look at the moon reflection in the image I selected and brightened for my July desktop calendar.

free desktop calendar July 2013 1440x900
The ripples were a result of a fish surfacing for a snack.

For specific screen resolutions of the calendar, drop down the Free Calendar tab at the top of the page or click here.

PS It was only a few days ago that an observant follower of my blog discovered that I had 31 days on my June desktop calendar! Oops. Sorry about that.

June moon at dawn

The June ‘super moon’ was setting as we rose for work this morning. It may not look like a super moon but by the time it dropped to the horizon, the sun had brightened the sky so much the moon faded completely from view. I’ll share a few shots of it rising in my next post.

got it!

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.

Yay! Got it!

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….