Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Super Moon

When I heard there would be an exceptionally large, especially bright, full Moon Saturday evening, I knew I had to photograph it. Even if the image didn't stand on it's own, I could use it to add visual interest in future landscape composites.

Luckily Saturday evening was clear and the moon was nothing short of brilliant.  All I had to do was wait for it to clear the tree line, walk out onto the deck, and take the shot.

In preparation I set up my heavy duty Majestic tripod, dug into the menu on my Canon 7D, set the mirror lock up function to enable, set the ISO to 100 and shutter speed to 1 second. I Attached the longest lens I own, a Canon 300 f/4 and attached it to the tripod. To avoid any possible camera shake not only did I enable mirror lock-up but I also set the self timer to fire two seconds after the shutter button was pressed.

I didn't trust the in camera meter as the Moon was extremely bright and the space surrounding it was pitch black so I made a test exposure at one second wide open at f/4.  Reviewing the image on the LCD screen revealed a large white dot encased in a sea of black.

Okay so it's a Super Moon, super bright, super close. I stop down a couple of stops and shoot another test, still no detail in the moon so I run the shutter up two more stops, better but not what I'm seeing with my eye. I keep bumping up the shutter speed until I find an exposure that shows detail in the surface of the moon. That exposure is 1/500th of a second at f/4. A much less exposure needed than I originally thought.

Realizing that I can get a sharp exposure without locking up the mirror and without setting the self timer I turn both functions off, take the camera off the tripod, turn the auto focus on, select the center focusing dot and fire away hand holding the camera.

A Super Moon happens when a New Moon or Full Moon is closest to the Earth in it's orbit "Perigee" The energy of a Super Moon intensifies the gravitational pull on the oceans tides, the tectonic plates of the Earth, and can influence our emotions.

This was the second of three Super Moons we will experience this year. The first was on Feburary 18th and the third will be April 17th.

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