Let’s Shoot the Supermoon!

I came across this post today about shooting the Supermoon and thought it would be a good idea for everyone to give it a try.  I’ve never really been very successful at getting a really good landscape or cityscape image with the moon in it, so here’s my chance.   This also a good time to talk about one of the tools to help plan specific images like this.

I don’t have an iPhone or iPad, so I can’t use Photo Pills.  What I have started using recently is the web based version of The Photographer’s Ephemeris or TPE.  It’s great for seeing where the sun or moon is going to be at any given time and also when either one will above a mountain for example as opposed to just being above the horizon. Knowing that the sun will rise at 6:00 am for example doesn’t really help you if there’s a mountain in between you and the horizon.   TPE let’s you determine when the sun will rise above that mountain and from the exact direction.  TPE has an excellent tutorial that should get you up and running with it.

If I’m right, that link for TPE will put the primary pin on top of the parking garage I’m going to shoot from in downtown Salt Lake.  Using TPE I determined that the moon won’t clear the Wasatch mountains until about 8:50 pm which I don’t think will be close enough to sunset to give the nice orange color.  If you’re trying to see this for yourself on TPE, the moon will be at an azimuth of 105 degrees and should be rising just a bit to the left of Mt Aire.  If you put the secondary pin on the top of the closest ridge to downtown SLC, and at the azimuth of 105 degrees, that will be at an elevation of about 7300′.  The altitude at the parking garage is +5.06 degrees and the altitude at that ridge is +7.37 degrees.  That should be enough difference in elevation for the moon to be visible.  I actually check every peak along that azimuth to be sure I know which one is the highest (from my shooting location) and the last one the moon has to clear. Given that I’m fairly sure the moon won’t clear the Wasatch mountains in time to get that nice orange color (I did try several other locations, but none of them made any significant change in when the moon would be visible), I’ve decided to go for a cityscape shot.

This is where a bit of a guessing game comes into play.  I haven’t found anything that will tell me when the sun or moon will be above a specific building.  What I was able to do is use Google Earth to get a pretty good view of what I’ll see from that parking garage.  Using TPE I can zoom in and see that the moon will be just to the right of the Well’s Fargo building at about 9:00 pm which is helpful.  The other issue is that I can’t get a view from a low enough angle to see exactly which buildings I’ll be able to see from the parking garage. Regardless of that, I know the moon will be clear of the whatever building I can see at about 9:00 and not to far up in the sky so it should make for a nice composition.  I’m planning on using my 70-200 and get a fairly tight composition of the buildings and hopefully a large moon.  We’ll see what happens.

Please give this a try and share your results.

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One thought on “Let’s Shoot the Supermoon!

  1. Pingback: Persistence pays off! |

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