This is my 100th blog post. It’s not relevant to the rest of this entry, but feels like a milestone worth mentioning in any case. 100 days of 100 posts. About 120,000 words. That’s about 480 pages of blogging. I wonder how many pages of interesting reading I would end up with if I went back and carefully edited it all?
Having shared that little milestone with you, it seems somehow appropriate to me that my 100th entry should be about the full moon.
I’ve had a busy week–or should I say busier than usual? But I’ve marked the full moon on my calendar. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for. In August, I went out to the Market St bridge and shot the full moon rising behind the Walnut St bridge but I didn’t have a tripod that could hold my telephoto yet. I thought I might get at least one or two good shots with my monopod, but the lens was too heavy and the wind was too strong and all my pictures were blurred, although I still found them interesting.
Since then, I’ve acquired a new tripod that’s up to the job. However, we’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve missed the full moon until now. In August, I didn’t think it was that big a deal I missed the opportunity to shoot the moon rising behind the bridge. I forgot everything I learned in Astronomy 101, I guess, and didn’t think about the fact that the moon wouldn’t be rising there for long. The moon now rises from behind the hills behind our building. There is no opportunity to catch people walking in front of the moon.
But, I want to shoot the full moon anyway. I am fascinated by the moon. Having been shooting the moon for many nights the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with what I’ve learned from some of my photographer friends. I’ve watched the moon moving across the LCD on my camera as I try to set up for a shot and realized how quickly you really have to move to keep up with it.
I’ve also learned to cut way back on the exposure if you want to see the craters in the moon. And, that the fuller the moon is, the less interesting it actually looks in photos because the light flattens out all the details. In spite of this new knowledge, I love capturing the full moon behind objects on the horizon. Tonight, I take my camera and tripod up to the roof to see what the options are.
I go to the roof and discover gusting winds. I position my camera on the tripod and experiment with holding the strap so it won’t catch the wind and introduce movement. I am ready to go, but where is the moon? It’s well past the official moonrise, but I’ve learned that the moon appears at the horizon later here, probably because of the hills.
I am poised and ready to pounce–the moments the moon will be at the horizon are so short and I have to focus manually before I start shooting. I look along the horizon for signs of light in the approximate area I expect the moon. For a moment, I am like a 50’s housewife with dinner on the table, scanning the street for her husband returning home late from work.
Then, I see light. Through the red leaves of a tree being whipped about by the wind, a tiny bit of glow appears just above the horizon. I have to wait for enough of it to rise that I can use it to focus and then start shooting. I adjust the exposure again and again, torn between being able to see the color in the trees and not over-exposing the moon. I keep shooting as the moon is released from the branches of the tree, making me think, oddly, of an egg bursting from an ovary.
As the moon rises into the sky, I keep shooting, but the photos of just the moon really aren’t interesting to me. They show a round disk, yellowish in the light from the setting sun, with splotches of brown on it. Prime time is over and it’s time to shoot something else or go in. Since the wind is getting only more fierce, I choose to go in.
I slide the legs of the tripod in enough that I can carry the whole thing over my shoulder without running into too many things. Then, I head back down the stairs and into the apartment. I pop out the CF card and pop it into the computer to see what I’ve got on the big screen.
My shutter speeds were slow enough that the tree in front of the moon appears in motion. I decide I like that. I decide my favorite shot is one that shows the color of the leaves in the tree with the moon flaring through it. The leaves are in motion, the moon is frozen but overexposed. I decide that I like that too.
I sit at my computer and stare at my shot for a while. I consider whether it would have been better at a faster shutter speed so the tree was sharp instead of in motion. Or if I should try to turn down the exposure on the moon in my editing software. Or if I should crop it so the moon is less centered in the frame. I consider copying the photo and trying all of these things. Then, I decide once more that I just like it and to let go of how anyone else will judge it. After all, the shot is for me.