The Full Moon Rising

The Full Moon Rising

I often plan photoshoots to coincide with the moonset at sunrise, around the time of the full moon. This event only happens on one day (or very rarely two days) each month, and as often as not it is obscured by clouds or fog, or I simply can’t make it out at that time on that day of the month. It is a very beautiful thing to see the moon painted with the colors of the sunrise and it really is worth making an extra effort to get out to see it.

I have only rarely considered that the moonrise at sunset is equally beautiful and powerful to see, and I haven’t paid nearly as much attention to the timing of that event each month. It was a happy accident today when I just happened to look over my shoulder and noticed that the moon was rising behind me, and it appeared to be huge against the horizon! I quickly found a nice agricultural scene that would highlight the beauty of the dusky colored moon and made a few nice images.

Moonset at Sunrise

Moonset over the Rockies at Sunrise

Every month there is one day, usually a day or two after the full moon, where the moon sets just as the sun rises. If you time it just right, and if it isn’t too hazy or cloudy outside, then you can see the moon looking huge as it drops below the horizon. With the sun coming up on the opposite horizon the moon will glow very brightly in a beautiful shade of orange or pink.

I was out for an early morning birding trip yesterday and I had hoped to be able to make some nice pastoral images of the moon dropping behind the Rocky Mountains with the open fields of the foothills in the foreground. While I did see the sunrise, unfortunately the moon dropped into a cloudbank on the western horizon long before it was low enough for the pictures I has in my minds eye.

Before going to bed last night I told my wife that if our son, who has been sleeping very poorly lately, was awake before 6:30 AM then I would get up and take him with me for another attempt at my moon shot. Of course he woke up right at 6:30, which barely gave me enough time to get get both of us dressed and out the door, get all my gear into the car, and then find a nice location to shoot from… Fortunately we live near a ridge with a good view of the Rockies to the west, and so I went straight there. I had only 5 minutes from the time I parked the car to the time that the moon had fully dropped below the horizon. I managed to make a few images, and this one is one of my favorites of the bunch.

This image isn’t quite the pastoral scene that I had hoped make, but I like it anyway, and sometimes that’s how it goes. You can plan all you want, but if life gives you oranges instead of apples then you might have to make orange juice instead of apple pie! This is only the second time in the last year that everything came together perfectly for me to get my shot, and I have honestly been trying almost every month!