Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June Moonrise at the Spirit Tree

It had been a while since we'd shot moonrise at the Spirit Tree. Last month our attempt was foiled because of the clouds and this month was almost a repeat. I'd left home at noon on Friday so I could bet up to Grand Portage in time for sunset and the subsequent moonrise. Turned out sunset was a bust but the sky showed some possibilities for the 10:30pm arrival of the moon.

We got down to the tree moments before the moon started it's climb above the horizon. As I was setting up my first shot I saw a red light on the horizon next to the Rock of Ages lighthouse. It looked like a boat from a distance then it dawned on me, it's the moon and it was awesome. (I figure the streak in this image is a lightning bug because there was one flying around and it's a bit curvy.)

As you can see the moon was a beautiful red glow that reflected nicely off the water. It's illumination was still quite low and soft.

As the moon rose it's color began changing and I changed my position as well. Instead of composing an image with the moon I opted to silhouette the Spirit Tree with the light of the moon and the texture of the clouds.

A variation on the previous image is to make a five minute exposure primarily to blur the clouds, softening them and giving them an interesting pattern. While the stars will make small trails hiding the moon keeps the moon from taking on an oblong shape.

Shifting position again I found this composition I really like and one that I've never found before. A light breeze was blowing enough to blur the leaves in the upper right as well as some of the smaller branches of the Spirit Tree. The moon is pretty much dead center but it really works in this case.

Without moving the camera I just had to make a self portrait of me looking up into the crown of the tree. The scale of me with the tree is totally off due to the nature of the wide angle lens I'm using. Using my intervalometer I was able to delay the beginning of the exposure for a few seconds so I could get into position before the shutter was opened.

Now that the moon was well above the horizon it was time to go around to the from of the Spirit Tree and make some images using the light from the moon. This 30 second exposure has a light similar to daytime but has a unique quality only produced by the moon. (The stars also gives it away that this is a night shot.)

Lastly is an image of Travis patiently waiting for me to finish up, he had to go to work later that morning. He did a great job sitting still for the 30 seconds required for this exposure.

Our evening at the Spirit Tree was more that I could have hoped for. When we first got down to the tree a loon called out to welcome us and then called out as we were leaving to bid us farewell. It was also nice enough to be down at the waters edge in just a t-shirt and feeling very comfortable.

In 2 weeks when I return the moon will not be visible and the stars will shine brightly against the black sky. Sounds like a good night for northern lights.


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