Believe it or not, today's Mt. Whitney sunrise image is a companion piece to my two previous Death Valley images. What can an image of the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere have in common with an image of the highest point in the 48 contiguous United States? Why, the Moon, of course....
In my two Death Valley posts I talked about moving around to reorganize the subjects in your frame, and moving forward and backward to change the Moon's position relative to the horizon. For this image I elevated that approach to a new extreme by completely relocating so I could photograph a sunrise moonset on consecutive days.
As you may know, the Moon rises and sets nearly an hour later each day. So your opportunity to get the Moon in the ideal altitude during the golden sunrise and sunset window only happens once each month. Determining the best day means finding out what time the Moon rises or sets. Published rise and set times always assume a flat horizon, like you'd find at the beach--but since that's not usually the case, it's important to factor in the fact that the Moon (or Sun) will rise later and set earlier the higher the terrain between you and the horizon.
A few years ago it occurred to me that I could cheat these limits by changing my location on consecutive days. In Death Valley that means positioning myself in a spot with a relatively low horizon angle (low terrain) on the ideal day, then (since the Moon will be higher the next day) shifting to a location with a higher horizon angle (higher terrain for the Moon to drop behind) the next day--doing that enables me to position the Moon just above the foreground terrain as the sun rises on consecutive days.
So that's what I did here: I scheduled my 2010 Death Valley workshop to coincide with the second January full Moon (a blue moon!), shot a setting full Moon from Zabriskie Point on our final morning in Death Valley, then moved the group to Lone Pine to finish the trip with the (nearly) full Moon setting behind Mt. Whitneythe following morning . (My 2011 Death Valley workshop will reprise this effort.)
This works in reverse at sunset: Since the Moon gets closer to the horizon at sunset as the full Moon approaches, by photographing at a location with a an extreme horizon angle (like Half Dome from Sentinel Bridge), I can "make" the Moon rise later (after its "official" rise above the flat horizon). Then the next night, when the Moon rises later (closer to sunset). Yosemite's a particularly good spot for this, and I've sometimes been about photograph three different sunset moonrises on one trip (or workshop).
I'm afraid I may have thoroughly confused many of you--sorry about that. This concept is really easier to explain in person than in writing. If you want to join a workshop I'll be glad to get you squared away; if not, I think if you actually get out and try it yourself it will all become pretty clear.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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