Red moon

This morning’s smoky full moon about an hour before sunrise. Normally a moon this red would be due to an eclipse, but today it was haze from BC’s wildfires.

So there I was a little before 5 am, standing on our balcony with the camera perched on the wall, angled upwards just enough to get the moon in the centre of the field of view using the neck strap bunched up to form a makeshift wedge.

And the moon was faint! Depending on the ISO setting and how much I underexposed the image, exposure times were anywhere between 1 and 5 seconds. I knew I had to keep it on the lower end so that the moon wouldn’t blur out as the Earth rotated, but I also needed to keep the ISO as low as possible to keep noise under control. (Sharpness and contrast also decrease with increasing the ISO value, especially in a camera of this vintage – 2009) In the end, this photo provided the best compromise on sharpness (the moon was low in the sky which makes getting a sharp image subject to the laws of probability), brightness, and noise.

It maybe wasn’t quite this red to the eye, but it was definitely very red and remarkably dark. While clearly visible, it probably didn’t attract much attention on account of its low brightness. Coincidentally, shortly after sunrise, the moon did actually pass through the Earth’s shadow for a lunar eclipse, although it was not visible in North America (obviously…!).

Mountain moonrise

A glorious nearly-full moon rise over Robie Reid with the last rays of the sun lighting up Golden Ears

How lucky for us to have clear weather for a January full-moonrise (or nearly full)! For some time I’ve wanted to catch the moon rising over Golden Ears, and when I realized I had a chance to photograph the moonrise, I spent some time using the The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Google Earth and searching for images on Flickr to try and work out the best place to capture this event. I was delighted to find that Deer Lake regional park offered a clear view across to the mountains, a view I hadn’t seen before as I’d only ever been to that park on cloudy days.

I cased out a parking spot along Oakmount Crescent (though I was nearly thwarted by the huge amounts of snow piled up at the roadside!), and jogged down into the snowy park to find my spot. I set up the tripod and camera, and waited. The moon soon rose right over the top of the gigantic block of Robie Reid, so not quite Golden Ears but close enough 🙂 It was fun to see how quickly the moon appeared to rise over the mountains. The sky turned from orange to pink to dusky blue, while the moon turned from orange to yellow to white.

While I was taking photos with the SLR, I had the compact camera (Sony RX100II) shooting a timelapse. I’ve never done any timelapses before so this was a first. I made a few mistakes but it still turned out quite well!

The evening was made all the more enjoyable by watching and listening to the crows as they flew overhead, cawing in pairs that created a stereo-like soundtrack to my ears. Soon after, a small hawk (Cooper’s or sharp-shinned probably) flew barely 10 feet over my head and settled in a tree behind me. Finally as I was getting ready to call it quits, a small movement caught my eye and I looked down to see a tiny vole dart back and forth across the snow before disappearing into a hole created by a patch of tall grass. What a treat!

Winter moonrise

I see a full moon rising – throwback to a chilly December evening in 2011, much like these past couple of days.

I both successfully planned and botched this photo. The success was catching the moonrise over the city. The failure was that I was expecting the moon to rise over Mt Seymour. If I’d checked a little more carefully I’d have realized that wasn’t going to happen! Ah well – there’s always a next time, and if we can believe the current weather forecast, it might even be next week.