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Setting Crescent, Sierra Foothills

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 9 March 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

My moon images are a particular reminder of how many of my images are "made" rather than discovered. By that I mean I identify a subject, go there when I think the conditions will be best, then move around to align the elements.

Every month I mark my calendar with the best times for the full and crescent moonrise and moonset. I have a number of go-to locations for each event, both at popular spots within a few hours drive, such as Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, and at pre-scouted locations near home. I use the moon's azimuth on each of these days to determine where I want to be.

Since I don't do HDR ("high dynamic range" blending of digital images to expand the range of light captured), my crescent moon images are usually silhouettes. For my local go-to waning crescent locations I look for interesting shapes (usually a tree or trees) I can isolate against the western sky. I always select candidates knowing that if my subject isn't against the sky it will be lost against the background in the waning light.

For the February waning crescent there was no particular lunar/subject alignment that excited me, so I opted for the foothills east of town, ending up at this tree that has attracted me lately, atop a hill near a fairly well traveled country road just south of Folsom. Its hilltop location puts it against the sky, allowing me to walk closer and shoot up at it with a wide lens, or as I did here, stand back at road level and shoot across with a longer lens. The longer lens also makes the moon larger in the frame.

Camera or not, when viewing a scene like this, don't forget to simply appreciate what you're seeing. I don't think there are many things in nature more beautiful than a crescent moon, and I always make a point of simply taking in the view when I photograph one. Eventually the sky darkens to the point where the foreground subject is swallowed by the blackness, making a silhouette impossible--but that's when the moon is at its best and it's nice to stay out and simply take it in.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

A tree with great character and I love the sky with streaks of color!

9 Mar 2010 5:44am

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Beautiful shape of this tree I like the colored sky - Very beautiful

9 Mar 2010 6:01am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

I love the shape of the moon and the marvelous tree of course ! Again a brilliant photo Gary, congratulations !

9 Mar 2010 10:23am

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Very beautiful image, nicely cmposed and shoted.

9 Mar 2010 11:44am

Michelle from Elverson, United States

Trees like this are truly amazing. Wonderful shot.

9 Mar 2010 1:27pm

Elora from Genoa, Italy

That crescent is fantastic! Wonderfully done Gary!

9 Mar 2010 3:37pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Oh this is wonderful! I love the painted look of the sky! (and of course the little fingernail of the moon-which is my favorite of all it's phases!) Thanks for reminding us to stop now and then just to appreciate the beauty of the world around us :)

9 Mar 2010 4:02pm

Don Smith from California, United States

Beautiful image Gary!

9 Mar 2010 5:30pm

LoulouPix from New York, United States

Fantastic shot Gary.
I also appreciate you shared your tricks with us as I'm not sure I would have thought about using a moon calendar ;)

9 Mar 2010 8:14pm

Sandy Weston from Madison, Maine, United States

Perfect! :)

9 Mar 2010 11:51pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

superb light and composition - i like the strong tree silhouette - it gives this scene a lot of power in a way... the colours in the background are fantastic as well!

10 Mar 2010 1:23am

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Fabulous! i love the layers. That tree is extraordinary!

10 Mar 2010 3:11am

Sriram from Chennai, India

What an exquisite image! Meditative and tranceful!

Brilliant work and Best wishes for more such work!

10 Mar 2010 12:07pm

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Just a magnifiscient view!

10 Mar 2010 1:18pm

Julie from Easton, United States

Just awesome! I love all of the layers of colors and the moon to boot!

10 Mar 2010 3:43pm

Alan from Manila, Philippines

Oh my, this is soooooo beautiful. Simple yet beautiful! Without a doubt, it's a well-thought of photo. Perfect!

11 Mar 2010 11:41pm

steve loos from hollister, United States

Gary simply elegantly beautiful.

12 Mar 2010 4:41am

drphoto from Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Simply stunning picture. It certainly helps to plan ahead!

Just one question: what is an 'azimuth' and how does it help you choose moon views?


12 Mar 2010 5:39am

@drphoto: Thanks, Dan. The the azimuth is the distance, in degrees, east of north. Wherever you stand on the face of the earth, you can draw a line to any celestial object--the angle of that line relative to due north is the azimuth. In other words, from wherever I stand, if due north is 0 degrees, as I rotate my view to the right (east), the angle between 0 and the point I'm facing increases until I've circled back to north at 360 degrees (which puts me back at zero). I try to find other photogenic objects also at or near the angle (azimuth) of the line connecting me and the moon.

Self-Indulgence from Chicagoland, United States

I think the moon is great actually. You can tell it's an orb but softly and your composition is very.. peaceful. I think I expect to hear a wolf howling off in the distance.

12 Mar 2010 11:55pm

Bill Brown from California, United States

Simply fantastic, Gary!

14 Mar 2010 3:56am

Florence from Paris, France

Superb. What a great tree silhouette against this marvelous sky. Impressive.

14 Mar 2010 11:32am

Marie from FRESNES, France

absolument magnifique !

14 Mar 2010 8:55pm

Bob Towery from Granite Bay, United States

Well seen, well done. Super work

15 Mar 2010 5:25pm