Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Pink Moon - April 7, 2020

On the morning of April 7th the mostly full moon would set in the west at or around sunrise before rising in the east at sunset.  The full moon is always at opposition to the sun otherwise the angles wouldn't work out and it wouldn't be a full moon. Another feature of the sunrise/sunset full moon is that there is ambient light from the setting or rising sun so that you can still see part of the landscape.

The trick to making the moon look bigger is to shoot it near the horizon with a long zoom lens. Usually there is just one day per moon cycle that everything lines up - a day earlier and the moon is out with too much sunlight and you can't see it. A day later the moon is out after dark and you can't see the landscape.

I woke up at 5:30am so I could drive downtown and try to capture the full(ish) moon setting against the downtown skyline. According to my app, the moon would be in place by 6:45am or so.

I'd lucked out last year and got some good photos on the way to work (link) and was willing to try again in spite of going to the same area. I was anxious that I'd just end up with the same set of photos and almost decided not to go because of it, but I hardened my resolve and was soon driving downtown in sparse traffic.


A week or so ago, I'd shot the waxing moon from the edge of the river on St Patrick's island. I decided I'd go to that same spot to see what was up. There were some pretty fast moving clouds coming out of the north west and a lowish block of clouds on the horizon. It must have been pretty windy at elevation but here on the ground it was calm which was nice. There wouldn't be a lot of time before the moon would be out of view so I quickly framed up some photos.

As the sun rises, the ambient light brightens and the contrast between the moon and the landscape lessens which allows you to capture details in the moon as well as in the landscape. The moon would be behind clouds before this equilibrium of light could be met so I had to work with what was there.

I tried bracketing photos for HDR but the moon was changing position super fast and the images didn't line up in post processing and there were weird artifacts making it look dumb.  In the end I processed a single photo by lifting shadows and lowering the brightness. It looks ok I think. I'm not convinced about the foreground though.

pink moon

It wasn't long before the main event was finished.. because it all happened so fast there wasn't an opportunity for different compositions and I really only got one photo out of it.

I hung around for a little while to see if the clouds would catch some light at sunrise and framed up the photo below in anticipation. A bit of sun on the buildings would have been awesome.. but it didn't look like it was going to happen and the clouds looked like they were filling in everywhere. The grey overcast still works here though.


About 40 minutes later, after I'd packed up, I was way up in the north east end of the city and almost home I could see that the sky did break and there was sunlight on the buildings and my wildest dream would have come true if I'd just sat there and waited.. lol.. I had to remind myself that we can only make decisions with the information we have at the time and at the time, it looked like a lost cause.  Oh well, maybe next time.

The opportunity for shooting the moon rise at sunset was lost as the sky did fill with clouds and there were no views at all. I checked the Calgary clear sky chart website and it looked like there was cloud cover up to about Edmonton. I was glad that I had gone out in the morning.

Here's a link for a larger view of the photos.

Thanks for looking.

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