On one day, I had an overflight from both of the initial 777X test airframes. The second one went straight over the house in less than ideal conditions but the first came just south of us if a little higher than is sometimes the case for aircraft heading back to Boeing Field. What I noticed in time was that the moon was on the flight path. Not much of a moon to be fair but the moon nonetheless. It crossed it quite nicely!
I was skimming through some photos and saw one of the moon I liked. It made me see what others I had shot over the years. I used to shoot the moon a lot when we lived in Chicago but haven’t done so much since. One shot is from California as the moon was setting over the hills while the sun was coming up. Others have involved cloudy nights that make for unusual shadows. I also decided to make a bit of an edit to one of the shots based on a picture I saw on someone’s shelf on a video I was watching. One for the Star Wars fans out there.
The combination of the Super Moon, the blue moon and the lunar eclipse was something a lot of people were interested in. Sadly, we were due to have a cloudy night so none of the excitement was going to be on show. As the sun was setting at the beginning of the evening that this was all due to happen, I was walking out of the office at the same time the moon was rising. At this point we still had a clear sky. I hadn’t planned anything but I did have a camera to hand so grabbed a few shots for the hell of it.
I decided to try and bracket for an HDR shot. The twilight meant there was something closer to an even exposure between the foreground and the background than you normally manage with a moon shot but it was still a wide range. HDR gave a bit more to play with. Then I headed home and the clouds rolled in.
We live to the east of some hills that border the San Francisco Bay area. On a number of occasions when I have been heading to the bay, I have seen the moon setting over the hills and thought that it would make a good shot. Of course, at those times I either don’t have the camera or I am not in a position to take a picture. I regularly use an app on my phone called The Photographer’s Ephemeris that gives information on sun and moon angles for any location. The shot I was after was to have the full moon setting behind the hills just after sunrise with the early light on the hill tops.
This happens once a month but having it occur when I am not constrained by work requirements is a different thing. It turned out, though, that the combination I was after was going to occur on the morning of Thanksgiving. Excellent. Of course, did I remember to set an alarm? Nope. I woke up and realized I had missed it. The following day the conditions were similar but an hour later. I decided to give it a go anyway. The result is not quite what I wanted but it is okay. However, the sun was way too high by the time the moon hit the tops of the hills. I will definitely try and do this again some time.
A lot has been made of super moon events recently. While they have garnered a lot of attention, in truth the moon has been only fractionally larger than normal. Catching the moon low to the horizon will magnify it far more than the small change in distance manages. However, I am a sucker for a moon shot so I decided to try and find some high ground nearby to see this thing come up.
What I hadn’t counted on was the residual heat from the day. I stacked up the 500mm with a 1.4x teleconvertor on the tripod and awaited the arrival of the moon. It started to rise up and I really liked the view with the grass of the hillside ahead of me shadowing it as it rose. However, it was clear from looking through the viewfinder that the heat haze was a big problem. I got a few shots but they are not the clearest I have ever managed with the detail being heavily impacted by the shimmer in the atmosphere.
I did shoot a bit of video as well. The reason for the video was that I wanted to show the gentle wisps of cloud that drifted across the face of the moon as it rose. With the long lens combination, the moon actually moves quite quickly across the frame. I thought this looked pretty interesting. What I hadn’t appreciated at the time was that the video also dramatically illustrates the heat haze. Therefore, below is some footage of the moon at various stages of its progression supported by the sound of crickets on the hillside.
An evening flight out of SeaTac was my way home on a recent trip. We were due to take off after sunset so I hadn’t anticipated having the camera out. As we taxied out, the sunset looked pretty nice and I did get a couple of shots with the phone. However, there was a small moon also heading towards the horizon and I figured I should get out the real camera to make a better shot of it. The moon was just about to go down while the red of the sky still remained courtesy of the now-set sun. It was a bit of a dark shot and through the window of the 737 but it turned out pretty well.
You see the moon more when you commute. Each morning and evening you make the trip to and from work and spend some time outside. Therefore, while your window on the outside world is relatively restricted, you are forced outside at given times and therefore see what is around you. Since the moon rises and falls at slightly different times each day, you will cross paths with it reasonably frequently. When I worked from home, the chance of looking outside at the right time was less so I didn’t pay the moon as much attention.
I get to see it setting while the morning sun is coming up on the hills (I will have to try and shoot that at some point) as well as seeing the different phases. One evening I was on my way home when I saw the thinnest sliver of moon. I could actually see the rest of it although it was very dark. Unfortunately, cameras are not able to handle such a range of light so a shot of the illuminated side means the rest is black. I didn’t bother with trying HDR, not least because the moon moves pretty quickly and long exposures end up very blurred. I made do with the simple shot. It made me happy.
It only seems appropriate that I should follow a sun posting with one about the moon. Having lived for the last ten years in a place that faced east, I was used to seeing the moon appear and then progress across the sky. Now I live somewhere that faces west so, when I see the moon, it is already on its way down. Having the hills to the west of us means there is even less time to catch it.
I have shot the full moon (or very close to full) a few times before. One evening I was beginning to think about turning in when I saw the moon was dropping down and it was substantially in shadow. I thought it looked very interesting and, since the time of the movement is about an hour later each day, if I didn’t shoot it then, the following day would be a bit later, the moon would be a bit fuller and who knows whether the sky would be clear anyway. I headed downstairs to grab some gear and set up some shots from outside the garage.
The sky is not the clearest and least affected by distortion where we are but it isn’t too bad. I got a few shots and then ramped up the ISO a bit to make sure of getting something with a higher shutter speed. For those of you that haven’t tried shooting the moon, it moves surprisingly quickly and the use of a long lens emphasizes this even more. Therefore, you need quite a high shutter speed to make sure it isn’t blurred. Fortunately, although it is dark where you are, the moon is in full sunlight so there is a decent amount of illumination to help you out.
I got a few shots, and then headed back indoors to bed. Sometimes you just have to grab the moment. As a related item, I also got some daytime shots as the moon got closer to full recently.
No photo to show here. This is about one that didn’t happen. I was driving back towards the city just after sunset. The Kennedy Expressway runs east towards the city away from O’Hare for a while and the line of the freeway is the same as the approach path for one of O’Hare’s runways. As I drove down it, there was a line of aircraft on approach, each showing up with their landing lights on and with the closest aircraft showing clearly against the remnants of the light in the sky.
Add to this the enormous full moon that was almost perfectly in line with the planes and you had the sort of shot that you see online every once in a while and think how cool it looks and maybe it was faked. This wasn’t faked. however, my cameras were in the trunk and I was driving on the expressway so there was no way to get the shot. You will have to take my word for it. It was that good!
The moon was supposed to be at its biggest recently. I was all ready to head down to the lakefront and get some shots as it rose and the atmosphere magnified it to the greatest extent possible. However, as the afternoon started to wind down, the fog started to roll in. As the sun was setting, the fog banks were wafting between the buildings around us and you couldn’t see the harbor wall let alone the horizon. Oh well, what can you do?
As the evening rolled on, the fog finally cleared out but, by then, it was too late. The moon did appear amongst some of the buildings so, while it didn’t look significantly different to normal, I still decided to get a couple of shots. The problem with this is that the moon is effectively in sunlight while the city is in night. The top picture is the cheat that resulted. Below are the two shots I took next to each other. One was exposed for the buildings and the other was for the moon. A bit of layering and masking in Photoshop was necessary to get the result at the top. I am not a Photoshop wizard and I suspect those that know their stuff would tell me why it is not as well executed as it could be but this was hardly a client job! Just a bit of fun.