Simple Supermoon

Pentax 645z with 80-160mm lens @ 160mm
1/20sec @ f/11 @ ISO 500

There is a full moon 12 times a year (Duhh!). Occasionally when the moon is closer to the Earth in its orbit than usual it's called a Supermoon. It's not really that "super" and it only appears marginally bigger and brighter than usual, but popular culture demands that we label such events.

But for a photographer the full moon rising, as it does almost exactly at sunset, is always an opportunity to do a bit of landscape photography.

In south-central Ontario on September 8, 2014 the skies had been crystal clear for two days, and though clouds rolled in a few hours later, for moonrise it couldn't have been clearer.

Two questions arose – what to use as a foreground, and what focal length to use. I decided that the world didn't need another super-close-up of the moon, and so I set out to find an interesting subject.

Raw file as shot

The location I chose is one not far from my home, high on a hill facing east. A copse of trees that I had photographed just the week before, as a major storm passed though, and which I wrote about here.

I had hoped to replicate roughly the same framing, but even before arriving on the hilltop, I checked The Photographer's Ephemeris and saw that the angle would be wrong; off by more than 30 degrees.  

Somewhat let down I nevertheless did a couple of dozen frames over about a thirty minute period as the moon rose, with different compositions and focal lengths from 45mm to 300mm. None of them really satisfies me, but the one that I liked best is shown on this page . 

100% crop

As can be seen from the image at the top of the page as compared to the 100% crop immediately above, this is one of those shots that doesn't work all that well displayed online. The moon is simply to small and the shadow details are hidden. But on a well light  20X24" print, and with the available resolution of a medium format file, the photograph is actually quite arresting.

Post processing was minimal. Some cropping, lightening the foreground a bit, sharpening and a slight "clarity" brush on the moon.

The exposure was straightforward, with f/11 chosen to be sure that both the trees and moon would be in focus – though the copse was at least 125 meters away. I wasn't too concerned about the shutter speed being in the "nervous" zone at 1/20 second, because my experience has shown me that with the 645z system the only lens where I need have any concern about slow speed shutter vibration is the 300mm.

A RRS TVC-34L tripod was used along with an Arca Swiss Cube head.


This image and its analysis may be discussed on the LuLa Forum