Aim for the Moon!

120929017 ver 4 Moonrise

“Aiming for the moon and missing it is better than aiming for the ditch and hitting it” – Unknown

The full moon was yesterday afternoon at 12:57 PM and rose last night at 8:09 PM here in Capitola.  I didn’t have a chance to photograph it but it brought back an experience I had this past September in the desert near Mono Lake.

Night photography is one of my favorite forms of image making.  It requires a sense of adventure, thought, calculation, experimentation and a bit of luck.  Many people are afraid to try it, though, because  they fear making mistakes.  Photographing the full moon is even harder than ambient light night photography because you are shooting directly at the source of light rather than at a subject illuminated by that source and your chance of failure is even greater.

Remember, though, the old adage that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes photographing at night and I’ve frozen myself and my equipment in the process of making both.  The results have been worth it.

During the last week of September, I spent almost every night using the light of the waxing and full moon to create images of the desert mountains, rock formations and sand tufa formations.  However, I couldn’t resist taking the chance of photographing the full moon itself knowing that the chance of me succeeding with the equipment I had with me was slim.  If I hadn’t risked aiming and missing I never would have captured the image above.

I headed back to Lee Vining later that evening and went out to the deck to enjoy watching the moon continue its climb into the sky.  I couldn’t help overhearing some tourists nearby complaining about how they would never try photographing at night again because everything they did came out either overexposed or black.  Then one of the people looked up at the moon and stated very loudly that there was no possible way to photograph the full moon anyway and that they shouldn’t waste the effort.

I looked at the image that I had in the can and smiled to myself.  Those poor folks didn’t understand that you have to aim high and take the risk.  I know for myself I would rather aim for the moon, miss and maybe hit a star instead of aiming for the ditch and hitting the ground.

So go ahead and aim for the moon.


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