17 April 2014

Murphy's Moon

Shoot The Moon

1:23 a.m., 15 April 2014

I shot the moon, and the... moon won! I shot the moon, and the... moon won!

We did not expect to be able to enjoy the total eclipse; the forecast was for total overcast skies. The sky was amazingly clear when we got home from work, so we planned to set the alarm for midnight, go to bed very early, then get up and shoot the moon.

The Lizard fell asleep watching the moon from our bedroom window, and I couldn't sleep, so I wrote in my journal and made a snowflake.

Midnight came, and slowly, the moon began darkening from the left. I had set the camera and prepared the tripod hours earlier, and I'd previously picked a flat spot in the sloped backyard to set up.

The wind howled, and the temperature forced us back inside several times to add more warm layers. As the moon grew darker, I was forced to change camera settings. It's been years and years and years since I shot an eclipse, and I'd forgotten you can't use the same setting throughout! So back inside the house one more time to find a flashlight to manipulate the camera settings.

In the meantime, the moon got tangled in tree branches! Or the trees jumped into the picture when I wasn't looking. Or, I know, the wind did it! The wind blew the trees into the picture!!!

We decided to move the tripod to the front yard.

Moments later, I slipped on the ice and crashed into the car, setting off the car alarm and presumably scratching the car with the tripod. The Lizard ran for the car keys to silence the alarm, and neighbors all over the street poked their heads through curtains and blinds to make sure everything was okay. A couple came out into the street to watch.

I set up the tripod right in front of the house and shot one shot. I expected to have to change settings again because the moon was much darker now. Instead, the frame was flooded by the nearby streetlight!!! THAT's why I'd opted for the backyard! Duh!

Down the block I marched, setting up the tripod once again not quite in the middle of the street, just in case any cars drove by, but trying to stay between houses and far enough from the curb that sleeping neighbors wouldn't think I was a prowler or stalker.

By this time, the moon was three-quarters gone, and the shadowed side was beginning to show as the overpowering illuminated side grew dimmer and dimmer. I couldn't shoot as slow as I needed because the tripod could not steadily and motionlessly support the weight of the Big Gun lens and heavy camera in the wind's sometimes violent outbursts.

The wind also forced me to keep the tripod on it's lowest level, and a crick was developing in my neck from checking the display in such an awkward low position.

But hey, no clouds, no tree branches, no street lights, no car alarms, and no hot chocolate! Brrrr!

Just as the white of the moon vanished, a fox strolled down the street toward us as if he was king of the roost. We chuckled as he trotted straight for us, as if we were invisible! Obviously, we were downwind of him, and the wind was loud enough to mask our giggles. If not carry them all the way to Wyoming...

Suddenly he stopped and stared straight at us, frozen but not by the chill. Then just as abruptly, he turned and beat feet in the opposite direction, but not before flashing us "the look." The You're-Keeping-Me-From-The-Best-Food-In-My-Kingdom Look.

I just finished downloading 112 moon shots and montaging the best ones into one shot. I'd planned to use a Photoshop action called Star Trails to automatically sandwich the exposures, but I'd been forced to move around so much, I had to do it manually.

Oh, well. I'm glad I waited for the moon. I'm thankful I was able to see the eclipse. And I am such a happy camper. Until the alarm goes off in just a few hours...

Lunar Eclipse


  1. What an adventure! Thanks for the photo because I didn't wake up in time!

    1. Thanks, Charlotte! I'm really glad I made the sacrifice!

  2. I have to live through you, as it was cloudy here, plus I wanted to sleep at my sea, shame on me lol

    1. Oh, Pat, you don't know how deeply I understand your lack of willingness to stay up that late!

  3. Wow, that was quite an epic struggle. I think you won too ... in fact we all did as we get to enjoy your fabulous shots. But you did all the hard work! I hope you weren't TOO sleepy at work the next ... or do I mean same? day. ;)

    1. Things didn't go as planned, Sue, but it was actually a great adventure, except for the wind. But I'm used to that now. And I've learned it takes two days to recuperate following a nearly all-nighter at this age...


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