Full Moons are Always "Super"
The rising full moon is always a spectacular sight and worth planning for to capture in dramatic locations. Full moons are
|Washed up on the Waterford Beach|
|Super Moon 20 miles from Mt Monadnock, March 2011|
I whine frequently about this sad fact of astronomy and hold marginally veiled resentment for my colleagues who are fortunate enough to live near the coast. I know that I could travel to coast for the moonrises, but hey, I'm old and lazy. I need a warm comfortable excuse to go to the coast and a couple of weeks ago the excuse fell languidly into my lap.
|Super friends for a super Moon|
Very good friends of ours were renting a house on the Connecticut coast and generously invited Susan and I to stay with them for a few days. Susan was busy volunteering at our local DeMar Marathon, but I decided to take Carrie and Jeff up on the kind offer. It was then that I realized that the weekend in question was the occasion of the fall super moon and a "super" lunar eclipse, AND I was going to situated comfortably on the Atlantic coast!
For any who don't know, Super Moons refer to full Moons that occur when the moon is closest to the earth in its elliptical orbit, otherwise know as "Perigee". At perigee the moon appears about 14% larger than when it is at its furthest location, "Apogee". The media make an inordinately big deal of this occurrence, but as Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "Resist the Hype: The size of today’s “Super” moon is to next month’s full moon as a 16.07 inch pizza is to a 16.00 inch pizza". Perhaps the only real significance is that a moon that is super provides a good excuse to get out and shoot, not to mention that I can probably charge at least 14% more for a "Super Moon" picture.
|A View to the Saybrook Lighthouse|
For me the excitement stemmed, not the "Superness" of the alignment, but from the opportunity to shoot a moonrise over the ocean. Before I headed south I dove into the Photographer''s Ephemeris searching for a nearby location that would allow me catch the moon rising above something of interest, preferably a lighthouse. I was staying in Waterford and following the lines of the moonrise I discovered the Saybrook Lighthouse in a near perfect position. The location was so good that I assumed I would be doomed to cloudy weather, but I headed down on Friday full of hope.
|Sunrise on Long Island Sound|
Scouting the Site
|Crackling Sunrise Light|
Among the Rocks
My location was out on a breakwater about 1.3 miles south of the lighthouse. The sky was clear but there was an ominous haze at the
|Jonathan Steele by iPhone|
waited to see if the moon would break through the haze. TPE made it certain that the moon would be there, but would we be able to see it. The moon appeared behind the breakwater precisely on time but it was barely visible through the mist and haze. Happily as it rose
|In the Mist|
|As Close as it Gets|
I got what I came for! The moon and the lighthouse both reflected the color of the setting sun and as the moon approached the beacon it was warmed by a few wispy clouds. My distance from the lighthouse (1.3 miles) magnified the size of the moon against the foreground, which is a key part dramatic full moon images. It was a lovely warm evening and I was reluctantly to leave my perch among the rocks, but I had to get back to join my friends for dinner. As Jonathan and I packed up we discussed the New England a Photographer's Guild and I encouraged him to pursue membership in the group. I'm thrilled to report that he followed through and is now part of the Guild, extending our representation to the Connecticut region.
Lunar Eclipse that was Super
After a nice dinner, Carrie and Jeff joined me outside to monitor the progress of the lunar eclipse. I followed the moon as it approached totality with my 400mm lens and 2x Tele-Extender. At 800mm I was able to capture a nice succession of images for eventual compositing into an image of the moon-lite ocean that I had shot the evening before. I'm not a giant fan of lunar eclipses, but putting it all together in one imagine was undeniably neat. It was a long day but a unique evening of lunar excitement, and I was ready for bed.
The next morning, after exploring the dunes and avoiding the ticks, I headed home to get ready for this year's foliage blitz. The coastal trip was a great opportunity and a wonderful break from my land-locked status. Again, I thank Jeff and Carrie for their hospitality. And the bonus was that I got to meet the newest member of the Guild.