In case you missed the event of the decade (almost the century) this last weekend, we had a Supermoon / Beaver Moon that hasn’t happened since 1948 and won’t happen again until 2034. A Supermoon occurs when the orbit of our moon brings it in unusually close proximity to the earth. In this case it appeared 14% larger and 30% brighter than a typical full moon. This, of course, brought out everyone and their dog (ours wanted to stay at home) with a camera.
I have been wanting to capture a full moon over the Dallas skyline for a couple of years now and this seemed like the perfect time to do it, so Sunday evening just before sunset I headed to the levee. Doing a little preliminary research I determined the moon would rise at 73 degrees, so I parked in my usual obscure location and trudged about a quarter mile along the levee with 3o lbs of camera gear and a tripod to get set up.
There were 5 or 6 other photographers in the general vicinity and we all had our locations staked out for what we thought would be the best shot. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a lot of frenzied activity as all the other photographers were jockeying for position and realized the moon was finally making its appearance, peeking up between the buildings. I also hustled about 20 yards south to get a better vantage point and started shooting.
The problem with shooting the moon at sunset over the skyline is exposure. To get the buildings reflecting sunset colors properly exposed, the moon will be vastly 0ver-exposed. Getting the moon properly exposed renders the skyline totally black. So… This requires multiple exposures for every shot. Also, to get a good close-up of the moon requires a very long lens and getting the skyline requires something more normal (around 50mm).
To shoot the moon in close-up I used a 100-400mm Canon zoomlens with a 1.4x telextender attached. This results in a 560mm lens, which is almost enough. 1000mm is optimal.
All of the images I used are composites. In other words, I shot numerous images with different composition and different lenses. Then I combined them for the effect I wanted. Using a really big lens compresses distance and makes the moon seem larger. But… Cutting this same moon out, enlarging it and tucking it behind the buildings produces and even more remarkable composition.
Another problem with the Dallas skyline is that all of the buildings do not light up at the same time. To get everything illuminated optimally, you have to wait until about 8:00 this time of year. Therefore, I had to combine file photos with new images to create some of these.
So here they are.