Thursday, December 7, 2017


As a Landscape photographer I tend to take note of every Full Moonrise date in my personal calendar. Surprisingly a lot of outdoor photographers are not really aware about the fact that whenever we have a full moon, the moonrise more or less coincides with the sunset; perfect to shoot the moonrise during the blue hour, my preferred timing for Landscape photography!  

Once in a while, we have a "Supermoon"; not even an official astronomical term, but lets have a brief simplified look what it actually is...

Since the moon orbit is not circular, the distance to the earth varies. Perigee is whenever the moon is the closest to the earth, but this does rarely happen when we have a full moon. Whenever it does, its time for a Supermoon!   

Such was the case on December 3rd, when the full moon disc was 7% larger and about 15% brighter than normal. 

Needless to say December 3rd was on my calendar when I went out into the desert just East of Dubai, in order to find a good spot to photograph the brightest moonrise of the year. Since it almost coincided with the UAE National Day (December 2nd), I wanted to give it a UAE flavor!

Although the UAE is not known for having huge forests, they actually do have a "National tree"; the Ghaf tree, officially called the Prosopis cineraria, is one of the only trees which is able to survive in the harsh desert climate. 

To highlight the size of the moon, it works best when one frames it with a foreground object. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 1600, f8, 1/10s, 300mm (450mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW development in Iridient Developer 3.2 
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 with Neutral density and Pro Contrast filter
Some might wonder, why I choose to frame the shot at such a high ISO, although I obviously used a tripod? Well especially at a high focal length (300mm) the moon moves relatively fast. 1/10s was about the best I could do without compromising the sharpness of the moon too much. 

On top of that there was some wind, making it difficult to keep the sharpness in the tree branches. I could have made several exposures with some exposure blending, but wanted to challenge myself and do it all in a single frame.

As often is the case, Landscape photography is all about being prepared. While scouting for the best place to photograph the moonrise, I always use PhotoPills. The app allows me to visualize where the moon will rise with great precision as can be seen in the image below.

There is a little bit of a learning curve when you first use it, but I find it very beneficial for my Landscape work. And, no I'm not paid to say this!

Lastly, just over a year ago, I photographed the largest Supermoon of the 21st century (yet) in an urban environment. Click here to check out the Pic(k) of the week of last year.

Remember, "Everybody is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody" - Mark Twain


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