I have often looked at images of the moon sat on a mountain ridge or balanced on an object like a street light and wondered is it a composite or not?
Some of these images are given away by the light, time of day, comparative size of the moon and distance to an object or of course just bad editing. However many are real and it was only when I started taking images of the moon and then planning where it would be at what time relevant to the landscape that I realised it is actually not difficult to achieve a good crisp image of the moon in the natural landscape. However it requires planning, patience and preparation.
Generally I use ‘The Photographers Ephemeris’ (TPE) to plan the location giving it thought to what might be in the foreground; trees, houses or high voltage cables so cross referencing the location with google street maps can often help prior to visiting the location before the intended day of shooting the image. TPE is available as an app (paid) or on the web which is free to use. There are of course many other apps that can be used both free and paid, I found the advantage with TPE though is it shows where the light and shadow is expected from the position of the sun. Of course TPE doesn’t show the local structures so a visit virtually or actually is needed to avoid any unwanted objects in the frame.
The resulting image on this occasion was of the full moon setting taken with a 500mm zoom lens mounted on a tripod with a gimbal to allow me to position the camera and lens accurately and take the image on a delayed release to minimise any camera shake.
So with the planning and prep part sorted it is all down to the execution. I was walking to the location so the need to plan the time for the walk and setting up the camera determined the time for my alarm as a few minutes late and everything would be missed. On arrival to the location having setup the camera I manually focused the lens on the moon as I want this to be sharp. I also tried to frame where the moon would cross the mountain as when it becomes closer to it the amount of time to capture the image is obviously very short and timing is critical.
Now all was left was to take one or two more images and check the exposure as the moon sank closer to the mountain and the sun rose behind me nearing the horizon adding more light to the sky and mountains in front.
Finally that moment came as the moon hit the mountain and the rising light from the sun started to illuminate the snow in the early morning light.
It was all worth it, final edited image below, the local daily news ‘La Côte’ requesting to put it to print in their online news.
If you were wondering why the moon is known as the ‘Worm Moon’ well, it is the first spring moon and as the snow and ice melts it reveals the life beneath and the worm casts that have been made. Showing the first signs of life and activity as spring arrives.