Super Moon!

Sun or Moon SP12-13

A super moon graced us with a visit last Saturday (i.e., May 5, 2012). Around sunset I snatched my camera, threw on a 300mm lens, and went out on a moon hunt, hoping to find somewhere a clean, exciting look of the rising super moon. No such luck. Locally, there are a low ridge of mountains toward east, and of course either houses or trees. No clean looks of the moon. And when the moon finally got around to getting over those mountains and trees and houses, it was shrouded in clouds. In the end, I did not get a clean look at the moon until I had driven back home, and then only from an upstairs window. But a 300mm lens doesn’t get you close enough to the moon to really get a good shot of it by itself. You need an 800mm lens or longer. So I wanted to paste the moon into another photo to set it off and give it some dramatic impact. This requires a dusk or night shot. Unfortunately, most of my dusk/night shots were taken looking toward the western sky, at the last glow left by the setting sun. Such images won’t work with a full moon, for obvious reasons. I tried to put the moon on a shot of Mount Shasta, but, as can be easily seen, it looks entirely out of place:

Not convincing at all, as the image is still shot in daylight. I managed to scrounge up a night scene in Eureka. This worked a lot better:

I colored the moon to give it a bit of harvest moon look, and to match the street scene. The photo is taken with a 15mm lens, while the moon is taken with a 300mm lens; so the moon looks way too big. But I think it works. It is, after all, a super moon, so it might as well look the part. The 15mm lens give depth to the street, which leads to the oversized moon.

I tried the moon on another shot, this time of the Carson Mansion. I intentionally reduced the size of the moon to make it look a little less unrealistic, while still conveying the idea of a “super” moon:

Again, I colored the moon to get the harvest moon effect. If the moon had really been there (and at certain times of the year, the moon does rise behind the mansion) you would not have been able to get the moon with that kind of detail for the simple reason that the moon is way too bright. The following is an image with a real moon (though not a “super” moon!):

Note how much smaller the moon is. That’s the trouble with shooting shots with the moon with an ultra wide angle lens!

Here’s another Carson Mansion moon shot, this time taken with a 50mm lens:

Still not anywhere close to the size of my pasted super moon. But note: even at dusk, and veiled by clouds, the moon is rather bright, revealing no detail whatsoever. This is why pasting a moon is sometimes a better strategy than trying to photograph the moon in “real time,” as it actually appears in the scene photographed.