The other night I cycled home after a business meeting and saw this huge full moon in between the houses of suburbia. It was already too bright to photograph it, but I was sure that it would come back the next night. So I prepared my photo bag and went cruising for a good location.

We have been in Ontario now for over two years and I am still on the hunt for the best location for different circumstances. It took me awhile to find a lake-edge spot that would suit my purposes. My idea was not so much to shoot the moon. I have done that many times and you need a good 400mm or more zoom range to really show the craters and spots on it. And even if you do, as interesting as it is, it is just another shot of the moon and anybody could take it. 

Now, doing this with the Fuji was a new challenge because I had no idea how much it would pick up. It has less pixels than my other camera and my maximum zoom is only 135.

I used an app called "TPE: The Photographer's Ephemeris" to find out where the moon would be rising. If you can grab this app, do it! There is a desktop version which is for free, and there is a phone app for a small fee. It will help you find the best spot in all kinds of weather, all over the world, and it also has information about sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset. It has a bit of a learning curb to use it but it is totally worth it. Here is their web address.

So, the Fuji's biggest advantage is that it will give you a preview through the Electronic View Finder of how your settings impact the image. You will instantly become aware of over or underexposure which is very helpful. Since I used TPE to know the exact co-ordinates of the moonrise, I was ready for it long before it happened. When it became visible, I could not believe my luck. For 15 minutes or so it was a "harvest moon": it was reddish yellow upon rising and it took more than 15 minutes for it to change to its usual black/gray demeanor. Initially it was also pretty vague because of some whispy cloud in the sky. I shot some "normal time" captures and then went to longer exposures. You cannot really do a true long exposure because the moon moves too quick. Even at 30 seconds you will see a double-vision moon, because it has already shifted 25% further up in the sky. See partial pic below at that shutterspeed:


The solution is using double exposures. Shot 1 is aimed at the moon and should take no longer than 3 to 5 seconds to get it in focus with no motion effects. Shot 2: the shutterspeed for the rest of the landscape can be as long as you want to get the desired fuzzyness or streakyness of the water. Then either in-camera or in post processing merge the two together and you are in business. Another thing I have learned from fellow photographers: be ready to shoot the moon when there is still some daylight left (which means you have to find a day with a moonrise that is very close to the sunset). The shot below is a single shot of the sky and the moon at 9pm, a mere 20 minutes after sunset. The lower part of the picture is from a merge of the same scene with a longer exposure (tripod) of the water.



The colours in this shot are for real thanks to the remaining magentas from the sunset. The Fuji captured it beautifully. Ideally, in a shot like this, it would have been nice to have something interesting in the foreground but that is hard to do with the vastness of the lake in this area. Still looking for better places in that respect. If you live in this area and have suggestions, please leave a comment! For now, I just wanted this emptyness because it has such a calming effect. At least, it has on me.

Another thing you can do when you are out and about at the water's end, is try and use motion to create a more abstract picture with ambiance. The shot below is an example of what you can get, provided you are able to keep the camera horizontally straight and use a shutterspeed that is slow enough to allow movement from left to right within the timespan of that shutterspeed. I kind of like playing with this, because first of all, no shot is identical and it is always a surprise how the shots come out. Below I included a goose in the shot. It is like a ghost bird here. Is it there or is it not...



Lastly, I took the third shot for the emptyness of it. It breathes that atmosphere that gives me peace whenever I am at the edge of a large body of water. Lake or ocean, it does not matter. The quiet lapping of the water, the stillness of sunset... I love it!