Moonlight Sonata

This weekend saw the astonomical event that sent a gazillion photographers hunting for the perfect vantage point.  It the last “Supermoon” for 30+ years and it was spectacular to say the least.

I was supposed to join Lee (Peterson) and some of our photographers’ lunch group Sunday evening at the Coronado Ferry Landing to try to catch it coming up over the city.  But alas I was buried with stuff for school and decided that was more important; besides I had some nice shots from the last supermoon (though it was a little less “super” than this one was supposed to be.)  You can see his shots on his blog listed in the right hand column.

Monday however, I had lunch with Cynthia and she wanted to catch the moon coming up over one of the Yacht Clubs so we hustled out to check out a possible location.  It occurred to me that the moon rising through the sailboat masts would be cool so about an hour before moonrise we were back at the location (another yacht club’s parking lot and docks) and setting up to shoot.  I had just recently lectured on using long focal length lenses for compressed perspective and making background images appear larger.  Too bad I did not have this image completed for that lecture.

Monday evening the moon rose later, at 5:37 so it was already getting dark.  On Sunday it rose about an hour earlier and blending ambient light and moonlight would have been a lot easier.  But when the moon appeared, at a bearing of 72 degrees as predicted, it was truly breathtaking.  Unfortunately I had left the graduated density filters in the car and didn’t really comprehend how bright this moon would be until it started rising and then it was too late to go get the filters.

Holy Cow it was REALLY bright.  So the shots were bracketed widely and then I picked two for an exposure blend.  HDR was a problem as the moon was moving at a pretty respectable speed during the short time between exposures so it seemed like it would be  easier to blend things manually.

Ummmmm…. no.  It was not.  but here is the result anyway.



“Supermoon” rising over San Diego Yacht Club, 11/14/2016.  Shot with Canon 5DSr and Sigma 50-500mm lens with Canon 2X Teleconverter.


There was a good four f-stops difference between the moon exposure and the foreground exposure so blending was a touch problematical.  In the foreground exposure the moon was so totally blown out it was “blooming” and appeared even bigger in the sky, also wiping out detail in the masts and rigging in front of it.  Fortunately in the exposure for the moon, that detail was sort-of there.  In a mid-range exposure it was better, so some of the mast tops were taken from a third exposure.  Fortunately there was no wind and the boats were not rocking in the water or it would really have been a problem.

Anyway here it is.  So far all the folks asking me if I shot this supermoon, the answer is yes.  BTW the light in the cabin cruiser to left of center was apparently a tungsten light so that yellowish color is not from the moon.  Same for the cupola of the Yacht Club building.  But it did go nicely with the color pallet of the shot as it was developed.



About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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