The Whole of the Moon…

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Using the Photographer’s Ephemeris as my guide, I knew that the full moon was going to rise about half an hour after sunset this evening, and I knew precisely where in the sky it was going to rise. I had grand visions of photographing a huge full moon illuminated against a backdrop of gorgeous pinks, blues and purples from the earth’s shadow, and the timing of sunset/moonrise would be quite close for allowing this to happen… that’s – if – there weren’t any clouds on the horizon.

I was in Portland earlier in the day helping Sam take care of paperwork for his summer internship, and while in town, we stopped for lunch at the Ri Ra Irish Pub on Commercial Street. As Sam scoffed down Shepherd’s Pie and I enjoyed a delicious bowl of Guinness and Beef Stew, a song from the past blared over the sound system, hence the title of this post. The song brought me back to growing up in Ireland… “The Whole of the Moon” by the Waterboys… classic!

Lori and Jack joined me on this little adventure – after we had all enjoyed ice cream at Giffords – and the three of us arrived at the parking lot for the Bangor Forest about half an hour before sunset. There’s a pond at the bottom of a large hill (which is actually an old landfill), and we all spent some time being enthralled and entertained by a frisky beaver swimming and splashing around. Though I was really just killing time until moonrise, I began to notice that as the sun got lower in the sky, nice warm light was beginning to paint the landscape. Scattered clouds were exploding up above, and from my viewpoint, I could see shafts of virga all around being backlit by beautiful colors. With the setting sun getting lower in the sky, I quickly set my camera up and fired off a few compositions.

OK… now for the moon. After the sun had set, I huffed and puffed my way to the top of the hill – I really do have to get in better shape – and I did some figuring as to where in the sky the moon would be rising. Wouldn’t you know… there was a thin layer of cloud hugging the horizon right where the moon was supposed to rise. After doing all of my planning, I wasn’t about to give up just yet though. A wide angle lens would render the moon – no matter how big it was in person – as a relatively small speck, so instead I set my tripod and camera up with a 70-200mm lens attached.

The image above is a composite of two photographs… the overall scene was shot at 70mm, and the moon was shot at 200mm… I then did a little computery-shenanigans to place the correctly exposed and life-size version of the moon back into the scene. Not quite what I had envisioned, but it was VERY COOL to be able to share the experience with Lori and Jack. As we watched darkness fall over the forest, twinkling stars slowly unveiled themselves overhead, and bullfrogs in the pond sounded their deep-throated songs… and even though those pesky clouds delayed the moon show for a few minutes, we did eventually see the whole of the moon.

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10 thoughts on “The Whole of the Moon…

  1. Wow! I’m so glad you did this! I missed the Pink Moon last week due to excess cloud cover – I was not happy about this. Your photos are gorgeous and I’m pleasantly surprised by how similar this sunset is to many of our Florida sub-tropical sunsets. From what I understand, the quality of a sunrise/sunset is all in the quality of the air. You must get some good ones out there!

    • David Patterson

      The air was quite unsettled on this particular evening, and although I loved the scattered clouds, when it came time for the moonrise they had settled in on the horizon. We hung around for about half an hour after sunset, and the moon finally crept up from behind the bank of clouds. Standing on the top of a windswept hill, it really was quite something to see!

  2. Bob

    Will the full moon be rising during those first weeks in July? I would like to see that just as it comes over the horizon.

    • David Patterson

      My preliminary research tells me that yes, the full moon will be rising at 8:15pm on July 3rd… just in time for some nice light near sunset (8:26pm). Now we just have to figure out a cool place to watch/photograph it from… any ideas?

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