I made it back from Monaco and Nice just in time for the super moon. The super moon refers to when the moon is closer to the earth than usual, resulting in an extra large moon. The point when the moon is full is the point when it appears the largest. I’m not sure if this is because the moon is actually the closest to the earth at that point or just the effect of it being a full moon. In any case, I have now chalked up a couple of years of experience shooting full moons. I remember the words of advice I got from a fellow photographer when I first started shooting full moons. They were, “Don’t.” He went on to explain that the full moon is too bright to make an interesting image. It simply looks like a flat, smooth circle with some gray areas in it compared to the much more pock-marked, three-dimensional moon one can get when shooting a crescent moon.
I experimented with this advice. I found that he was absolutely right that if you just shoot the moon, once it’s much more than half full, it becomes a very flat, uninteresting rock. However, I also found that if you shoot the moon rising at the the horizon or going through architectural features or clouds as it rises, it’s much more interesting. Since this discovery, I have attempted to pay attention to when the moon is full (or close enough to full) and where and when it will rise in the hope of getting interesting moonrise images. I’ve gotten a few I like, although there’s always room for improvement. The hardest part about shooting moonrise is how fast it goes. While the moon is usually quite late appearing in the sky compared to when the official moonrise is supposed to start, once it appears, the period of time when it’s most interesting to shoot lasts only a few minutes. The moon moves so quickly that you have to watch your shutter speeds–too slow and you start to get motion blur from the movement of the moon.
On this night, it was a pre-cursor to the actual full moon. While the moon was fullest the next morning, it was still close enough to full to get a full moon effect both the night before and the night after the moment of total fullness. I decided to walk out to Market St Bridge in the hope of catching people walking in front of the moon on Walnut St bridge. Unfortunately, low-lying clouds along the horizon prevented the moon from being visible until it was too high for people to be in front of it. When it finally appeared, it was barely a glow through the haze with the sun still relatively high in the sky (although it was headed towards sunset). It was still beautiful, though.