Supermoon: a chance taken

On September 9th, 2014, I finally succeeded in taking pictures of the Supermoon. After the cloudy Supermoon-day in August (read the blog post here), for an entire month, I had hoped for good weather.

The day began pretty cloudy. Then the sun came out shortly, only to disappear behind clouds, again. At 6 pm, finally the clouds vanished and a clear sky spun over Stuttgart. I drove up to a hill near the Stuttgart Airport, where I had a clear view across the whole region up the the horizon. Clear view? To my disappointment, the sky was getting more and more hazy towards the horizon. I could not even distinguish, whether these were clouds or not…

Moonrise was scheduled for 7:50 pm, but at the given time, no moon was visible. I almost had lost hope, when about twenty minutes later, a small reddish sickle was barely visible above what now in fact turned out the be clouds. The moon rose fast, and only 2 minutes later, I could see the full moon in its red glory. Twilight vanished pretty quickly and darkness set in – it only took about 20 minutes.

I knew, that things would roll by pretty quick, so I had prepared myself ahead of time. I had set up my camera an hour before on a sturdy Manfrotto tripod. As for the lens, I had chosen the Nikon 70-300 mm. That’s the biggest lens I have at my disposal. Knowing, that autofocus can be problematic in the given situation, I decided to manually set focus to infinity during sunset via live-view and by digitally fully zooming in on some trees on the horizon. Being in this “super zoom”-mode, setting focus is quite some task, since the slightest touch of the camera gives you a pretty blurry live-view (the framerate of live-view is somewhat “way lame”), and the smallest amount of rotation of that very zoom-lens’ focus ring already gets you out of focus. But I managed.

As for exposure, I had set my camera to spot-measure the moon’s brightness, which, during twilight, gave me a nice mix between the available light and the moon’s glow. Details of the landscape were in a nice balance with the brightness of the moon. Just 20 minutes later, that balance was gone and I even started experimenting with exposure bracketing to match the different exposure requirements of the darker landscape and the brighter moon.  You can see the HDR I created in the picture to the far right, below.

So: Supermoon 2014 – a chance taken…