Full Moon Rising" photo by Wes Moody
“Full Moon Rising” pho­to by Wes Moody. Click to enlarge.

What is it about the night sky that fills us with won­der? For me, it’s think­ing about the impos­si­bil­i­ty that I even exist on this tiny, frag­ile, blue plan­et in the incom­pre­hen­si­ble vast­ness of the uni­verse. Yet, here I am, part of the rhythm of the uni­verse, and I am thankful.

This pho­to is of the super­moon last week, ris­ing above a small barn near our house. A super­moon is when the full moon occurs when its orbit is clos­est to Earth. This was the third super­moon of the year, with anoth­er one to hap­pen next month. July’s will be the bright­est of them all.

The con­cept of this pho­to occurred to me the after­noon of the full moon. I want­ed to cap­ture the moon while it was low in the sky and in a gap in the tree canopy, direct­ly above the barn. Creating the pho­to­graph I had in mind would require some plan­ning, and I would need to use a tech­nique called focal length blend­ing. It’s a com­mon tech­nique for expe­ri­enced land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers, but I had nev­er used it before. I had a few hours in which to read and watch some YouTube videos to learn how to do it.

First, I had to deter­mine if the arc of the ris­ing moon would even pass through the gap in the tree canopy. I used an app called Photopills to help me plan the com­po­si­tion. Using the app I was able to con­firm that I would be able to see the moon in that gap at a cer­tain time if I set my tri­pod up in a spe­cif­ic spot.

Placing my tri­pod and cam­era where I had deter­mined they need­ed to be, I took a pho­to of the barn and trees dur­ing what pho­tog­ra­phers call the “blue hour,” a time just after sun­set dur­ing which there is some inter­est­ing light. On this day, the blue hour was actu­al­ly only 12 min­utes long. 

An hour lat­er, the moon rose to exact­ly where the app told me it would. I put a longer lens on the cam­era and, leav­ing the tri­pod in the same spot it had been, I took a sec­ond pho­to, this one of the moon. I processed both pho­tos sep­a­rate­ly, and after some tri­al and error, I was able to blend the two pho­tos to make this one.

  • Wes Moody

    Wes is a retired engi­neer. He and his wife live in rur­al Clark County with their dog and cat. He is a nature and land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy enthu­si­ast, and also enjoys hik­ing and play­ing djembe.