February brought the Hunger Moon, one I’ve been looking forward to for many months as it is one of my favorite full moon names. I was able to photograph moonrise from the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park (Hunger Moon I and III below) and moonset from a location here in Camden. (As a reminder, at the time of the full moon, moonrise happens near sunset and moonset happens near sunrise.) The moon was stunningly beautiful as it rose above Schoodic from my vantage point on MDI and I love the resulting photographs.
January’s full moon was the Wolf Moon and I’m very pleased with my photographs from this latest full moon. Weather conditions were not good for the actual moonrise, and life conditions were not particularly good either as I was also watching my 5-year old daughter, but the end result was worthwhile. (Even if Eliza had to stay up past her bedtime a bit.). Below you’ll find four images from that shoot. As always, please let me know what you think (and in particular if you also see a wolf amongst those clouds!). You can find all of my full moon photographs that are part of my Adventures in Celestial Mechanics series here.
First up is a new image from December that you may have seen in my 2011 Favorites, Long Nights Moon. December’s full moon has many names but my favorite (and the one most appropriate for this photograph) is Long Nights Moon. I really don’t know how this image will look on everybody’s monitor as dark images such as this one are particularly susceptible to monitor variations, but the print really sings. The print also is an incredibly tough one to print – one of toughest I’ve ever done – because when you are printing in the shadows everything must be perfect for the print to feel right. I’m still fine-tuning the print as I live with the image on my walls right now. Next up in my Adventures in Celestial Mechanics series is tonight’s full moon, the Wolf Moon – I’m pretty optimistic with the images I took in the last 24 hours for this one. More on this soon…
In other news, I’ve tweaked things a bit on the business end for 2012. Most importantly, I’ve reduced my edition sizes significantly for any new editions (i.e., new photographs and editions that have not yet had any sales). My new edition sizes are 10 16″x16″ prints, 8 24″x24″ prints, and 5 36″x36″ (along with a sub-8″ open editions). The prices have also changed accordingly for the 16″ and 24″ sizes.
Last month’s full moon was the Beaver Moon (also called the Frosty Moon) and I was unfortunately on the road and unable to seek out photographs of the full moon here in lovely Maine. I did create two photographs I quite like from a few nights before the Beaver Moon as the moon was waxing. Those two images are below, along with one other – a photograph I made of the actual full moon from my hotel room in Austin, Texas. You can find the entirety of my Adventures in Celestial Mechanics project on my website. By the way, the second photo is incredibly sensitive to monitor settings – on one of my monitors it looks fabulous, on my laptop it is horrible. But the print sings, which is what ultimately matters.
And the photograph from Austin…this was completely serendipitous as this was not a photo trip – but my daughter woke us up early and our hotel window was perfectly positioned.
“Adventures in Celestial Mechanics” is the name of my new body of work based on capturing moonrise of each full moon of the year. It is also the name of the textbook (see cover to the left) of my favorite college course, the intro orbital mechanics course with Dr. Victor Szebehely. (Way back when, I majored in aerospace engineering and specialized in orbital mechanics).
The delightfully-named textbook (by Dr. Szebehely) captured the beauty and majesty of the equations underlying orbital mechanics, making it appropriate for this series on moonrise of the full moon. For moonrise of the full moon results from an important phase of the celestial dance between the Earth, Sun, and Moon – when all three bodies are aligned and one can stand on the Earth with sunset at your back and moon rising right in front of you. I had been agonizing over a title for this series for a while, but once I looked at my shelf and saw this now 20 year old textbook sitting there, I knew that I had found my series title.
Dr. Szebehely was a great professor because of his knowledge of the subject and this enthusiasm for sharing it with students, and frankly because he seemed to care about us undergraduates far more than many of my other professors. He was also funny, with a dry humor that his deep Hungarian accent only enhanced.
In our aerospace engineering program, the workload was relentless with homework in each class every night. Notwithstanding that, Dr. Szebehely had a long-running joke where he refused to give us any homework on the night of a full moon and he would instead tell us: “No homework tonight. It is full moon. You have more important things to do.” I’m not sure I did then, but I certainly do now – every full moon now finds me out there with tripod and camera, seeking out the rising moon.
Another recent entry in my Nightfall series is this image, entitled “Nightfall, The Bubbles”. This image required an exposure of over 12 minutes, which of course resulted in the visible star trails (you can still pick out the Big Dipper and North Star, though). This image also required me to balance precariously – with tripod, obviously – on some small rocks on a very dark Jordan Pond. You can see other night landscapes of mine here. As always, please let me know what you think!
The most recent full moon was the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest in time to the autumnal equinox and is also perhaps the most famous of the full moons. Its name comes from the harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere, naturally, and specifically from the fact this full moon allowed farmers to work late collecting the harvest because of its brightness and rise time. Part of the cultural impact of the Harvest Moon also arises from the fact that the difference in moonrise times varies little each night around the time of the Harvest Moon, so the days just before and after the Harvest Moon have similar conditions (i.e., the moon rising pretty close to sunset). So, while every full moon rises close to sunset, the Harvest Moon provides this effect for several days in a row, effectively giving us more full moon conditions.
For this year’s Harvest Moon, I traveled two successive nights up to Acadia National Park. The weather conditions were not particularly cooperative, or so I thought. In the field I was relatively pessimistic about the photographs I captured this full moon, but once I returned home I realized that I actually struck gold.
The first photograph below is from the top of Cadillac Mountain shortly after moonrise. I love the soft sunset light on the clouds above the moon, as well as the configuration of those clouds themselves. That’s Schoodic Head out there in the distance as I’m overlooking Frenchman Bay.
The second night I stationed myself on the Park Loop Road looking again towards Schoodic Head. Because of mist/fog on the water, the moon wasn’t immediately visible after moonrise and I was worried that the evening would be a washout. Instead, the mist created a beautiful soft blue light and the moon did indeed peek through, as did the islands and trees in the bay. The scene was amazing but I feared the resulting print would not convey the magic of that moment, but I was happily wrong. The print of this image has become one of my all-time favorites already. I have learned that initial enthusiasm can fade, but I’m optimistic that this one will remain a personal favorite. Let me know what you think, as always!
I just added to my website four new images from July’s Thunder Full Moon. For this moonrise, I was stationed at Popham Beach State Park ready to catch moonrise over the Atlantic from, well, sea level. Let me know what you think, as always!
I also have finalized a name for the series instead of Full Moon (which is a bit too generic) – Adventures in Celestial Mechanics. More about this soon, but here is the short version. My favorite college textbook was the delightfully-named Adventures in Celestial Mechanics (for my orbital mechanics class). Night photography has become my recent passion in part because it gives me a way of rekindling my love of space. This series of full moon portraits takes advantage of one of my favorite dances of the celestial bodies – the alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun that happens at moonrise of the full moon. Once I looked at my shelf and saw this now 20 year old textbook sitting there, I knew that I had found my series title.
I wanted to point out two great collections of night photography. First, this is a really slick video of the winning shots from the BBC’s Astrophotography contest, along with an explanation of each. Highly recommended. (Hat tip to Rob Galbraith for bringing this to my attention).
I’m also excited to point out the new exhibition from The Nocturnes (the hub of night photography on the web) entitled “All Along the Lee Shore…”, featuring eight night photographers, including three images from myself. I’m honored to be included in one of their online exhibitions and definitely recommend that everyone check it out.
A little while back I also mentioned my new Full Moon series (which may yet change names) where I photograph the moonrise of each full moon of the year. Because of variable conditions and the fact that each full moon only comes once a year, this will be a multi-year project. In June, however, I was lucky enough to photograph moonrise from the top of Mt. Battie here in Camden for June’s Rose Moon.
The visible moonrise itself was delayed by cloud cover. You can see the moon starting to peek above the clouds in perhaps my favorite image of this group:
Once the moon was high enough in the sky, the reflected moonlight in Penobscot Bay became quite striking, too.
The reflected moonlight was very dramatic, and I captured that element in my other favorite of these images as the moonlight formed a shadow behind the island.
And, to give you a bigger picture of the moonlight in Penobscot Bay (the mouth of Camden Harbor is just below the bottom, and you can see windmills out on the island, too)…