There are times when everything just falls into place beautifully and you exceed your own expectations. Then there are times like tonight.
At 8:15, I start gathering my gear. Wireless remote shutter release attached to camera, check; 100-400mm lens with 1.4x extender on camera, check; lens foot secured in tripod, check; CF card in camera, check; reading glasses on head, check; warm layer of clothes added, check; beer in hand, check. Time to head up to the roof.
By the time I get set up and in position, it’s 8:30. Five minutes to moonrise. I start looking for signs. There is nothing. The moon is always late here in the valley.
I start trying to focus on something in the vicinity of where the moon should rise since I have to focus manually and there is very little time to catch the moon as it rises. Unfortunately, the maximum aperture at 560mm is f/8.0. There’s not enough light to focus using the LCD and it’s impossible to tell if I’m in focus looking through the viewfinder. I shoot, check my shot, try adjusting the lens in one direction or another and then shoot again. I do not recommend this method of focusing.
When some light starts appearing above the ridge in what must be the only clouds in the sky, I get excited. I go through the shoot and focus exercise several more times, hoping to get something sharp by accident.
The moon starts to appear and I go into a slight panic. Now there is enough light to use the 10x magnification view in the LCD to focus, but I can’t seem to get the sharpness I want. The moon looks sharp in 10x magnification before shooting, but when I review my shot, the focus is soft. It’s not good.
Part of the problem is that I’m overexposing the moon. I want to allow enough light to capture the great clouds around the moon with all the color–it looks like an amazing sunrise.
About the time I think I’ve got an exposure and focus that will look good, the camera suddenly stops working. Now I am really panicked. The moon moves so fast that when you are focusing on it at 10x magnification, you can watch it move in the LCD. I am about to miss the rest of the moon rise. Once the moon is above the horizon, the show is over–it just looks like a big hunk of moldy cheese.
Just when I decide I’m going to go order that new camera after all, I try removing the remote shutter release. Sure enough, the camera start shooting again. I get just a couple of quick shots of the last trees in front of the moon before it turns into floating cheese. Then, I head back downstairs.
So close to that great shot I’ve been chasing! Maybe next month.
Today’s Tisen shot is also not a sharp shot, but his stuck lip cracks me up too much not to share it anyway.