Just in case the clouds block my view of the Supermoon setting over the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow morning, I wanted to be ready to photograph the Supermoon tonight as it rose, at virtually the same time as sunset.
I chose a location with distant trees for my foreground, and used my Tamron 600-150 zoom lens mounted on my Nikon D800 and a tripod for a grand view of the rising moon. The moon rose above the trees, directly opposite the setting sun as I stood watch on the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
As the sky darkened after sunset, the moon rose higher above the trees and shone brilliantly showing the detail of its surface. Here is my image of the Supermoon, just after it crested the palm trees tonight, while the low sun bathed the trees in warm light.
In America, January 31, 2018 is our lucky day! If we rise and shine before sunrise, we can witness a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse all at the same time. From our continent, that will be a first — since March 1866. Maybe we should set the alarm clock. (Source: earthsky.org)
A blue moon is a full moon that occurs twice in a calendar month. A “supermoon” is a full moon that appears larger on Earth, since the full moon occurs at its perigee, the closest distance to Earth in its elliptical orbit. On January 31, we will see our third consecutive supermoon, if this is starting to sound familiar.
As an observer, you will be super lucky the farther west in America you are located that morning, as you will see more of the eclipse before the moon sets. I will be waking up in Naples, Florida where I will witness 23 minutes of the 1 and a quarter hour eclipse before moonset at 7:11am. However, Hawaiians can view the lunar eclipse from 2:52am until 4:08am. Get your camera and tripod ready, and find an optimal location!
I will be on the beach looking westward. How about you? I hope you will share your observations on social media, photographers.
Night photography that features the full moon is one of my favorite achievements. Add the lapping waves of the ocean and interesting landforms, and you can call that photo a personal favorite. All these elements came together for me at the end of a long day of photography on Maui.
That morning my alarm went off at 5 am, but we cancelled our 5:30 am departure for a sunrise shoot due to heavy rain all night continuing into the morning. Around 8 am, one of our workshop instructors knocked on my door. The other instructor had ventured out to scout road conditions and was stranded about an hour down the “Road to Hana” with a flat tire. Would I be willing to drive the route right away to pick him up? Of course!
Several hours later (around noon) with rain giving way to overcast sky, we hiked into a nearby state park, Wainapanapa, to do some photography. Later in the afternoon, we drove for an hour back the muddy, partially flooded, winding road to Hana — past the flat tire site — to the Haleakala State Park that features the “Seven Sacred Pools.” Then, we hiked a trail to a spectacular vantage point. Tired, yes. Sweaty, yes. Day is not over yet.
Just as the sun was setting, we arrived at our last location of the day: a little beach where you can see this volcanic mountain offshore “Alau Island” and enjoy some sun tinted clouds paint the sky before the scene disappeared into complete darkness. But this evening, there was something more. The full moon was rising opposite the sunset and near Alau island, while there was still some faint blue light in the sky.
I was ready with my equipment and techniques to capture a long exposure: my Really Right Stuff tripod and camera bracket on the Nikon D800 — necessary to make a long exposure. I knew I needed a long exposure in the very low light, and also that the long exposure would smooth the waves into a shimmering surface, accentuating the mood. I wanted the foreground to be dark, to show realistically the evening light. It was also important to me as a professional to hold back the bright light of the moon, to keep the highlights from blowing out. So, I hand held a graduated neutral density filter on the top edge of the frame.
I maintained the quality of the image by keeping the ISO at 100. I opened the lens up to f/ 2.8, and chose an exposure that allowed the foreground trees and rocks to go quite dark. With the help of the graduated filter, I held the dynamic range of the image well enough to capture this striking scene with one five-second exposure.
With this achievement, the week’s physical challenges all became worth it: the pre-dawn alarm clock, the heavy rain, the hot and humid hiking conditions, the muddy and sometimes precarious driving conditions. I was more than satisfied. I captured an image that exceeded my expectations.
With my husband and photography friends having departed, I woke up on my own in Maui this morning, but my productive photography workshop with Gary Hart gave me a tip to start my morning in a unique way. On a rainy afternoon in Hana (on Maui) this week Gary shared his methods for moonlit, full moon, and star photography. Then, last evening I remembered that this morning was just one day after the best day of the month for shooting a moonset — still close enough to capture something. Yesterday would have been better, but it was cloudy in Hana. On the second morning after a full moon, the moon (waning but 97% full) will set two hours after sunrise, when the landscape will be gently lit to balance the light of the moon. AND, as fate would have it, my room at Napili Shores opens on the Pacific Ocean, facing west where I saw the sunset last night. I looked up the time of the sunrise and moonset on my Focalware app, and set my alarm. It would only take me five minutes to put my clothes on, grab my camera and set up my tripod outside.
About 30 minutes after sunrise, when the full moon was about 20 degrees above the horizon was my best opportunity for an image. I was able to frame the moon with the silhouette of a palm tree, and the sky would only get brighter in the next 30 minutes, making it harder to separate the brightness of the moon from the brighter sky.
I did venture down on the lava rocks by the ocean in an effort to capture the moon sinking into the ocean, but clouds got between us (the moon and me), and that view didn’t happen. (Daily reminder: Mother Nature does whatever she wants. Cooperation is not in Her vocabulary.) I did capture some other cool images that I will share in future blogs, though. A vivid rainbow appeared for a few fleeting moments, and I captured that. Stay tuned to this nature photography blog…now is great time to subscribe by entering your email address. I’m posting some other cool Maui and Hawaii images on Instagram. Follow me there at @cathykellyphotography.