I find myself on a vengeful quest to conquer my own personal Moby Dick. In my case, it is not a whale, but the moon. While my motives are more innocent and less violent than Ahab’s, a desire to vindicate myself drives me to follow the moon with a modern version of intensity that involves many goggle searches.
I think back to the day, now more than two years ago, when this quest began. I had the idea of getting a shot of the full moon rising behind the Walnut Street bridge.
I had purchased my 100-400mm lens a few months earlier–far enough ahead to have learned my inexpensive tripod wouldn’t support the weight of the lens. I took my monopod with me, hoping it would offer enough stability to get a good shot. As I stood on the bridge in the dark watching the moon rise perfectly behind the bridge with people walking by in front of it, I was buffeted about by the wind. My monopod was useless–my images were completely blurred.
Yet, I went home elated that this idea would work. I sent my blurry photos to a photographer friend who said, prophetically, “You wasted some good moonlight.” Naive in the nature of the moon, I thought, “well, there’s always next month.”
Over a period of weeks, I researched tripods and finally made an investment in one I expect to last the rest of my life. Finally ready, I headed out the next full moon only to discover there was too much cloud cover for the moon to be visible. The next month I learned that the moon was no longer rising behind the Walnut Street Bridge. It would be another 8 months before I would have another opportunity.
In the meantime, I practiced shooting the moonrise. In those months I learned just how fickle the moon can be. The obstacles are many: obscured visibility, daylight moonrises, my schedule, the speed of the moonrise, the unpredictability of the appearance of the moon, and focusing in the dark, to name a few.
At long last, the moon began rising behind the bridge again. The first two months, haze prevented it from being visible until it was far above the people on the bridge. On the one evening I had my chance, I arrived too late and missed the moment. Next month, it will no longer be behind the bridge.
I will bide my time. I will persist. The moment will never return exactly as it was that night. That is one thing I know with certainty–each moment is uniquely its own. But chasing the moon has its own merit. There is something to be said for tenacity. While there is a time and place to let go and move on, having a goal that requires planning, making time, learning, and adjusting seems like an important lesson in life.