Big Sur Moonrise – Friday Photo

Friday Photo—It is those photos, which come with a story, that photographers always remember.

I was teaching a photography workshop with friend and fellow professional photographer Gavriel Jecan in California when I took this photo. It was one of those scenarios where I set up the shot in the dark, took the photo, and moved on. When I showed a few photos to the group on the last day of the trip, people flipped out about this one in particular. I was floored because I really didn’t think anything of it.

The Story

I am going to start off by telling you that I am not really a fan of astro photography. It’s cool and all, and I do take part in it every once in a while. I just don’t have the patience for long exposures, exposure stacking, and focus stacking, and all the other details you have to think about to pull off an amazing night time shot. Now, when a group of clients is begging to give it a try, how can I say no? I can’t, but…

What happens when you realize that the workshop is being held during a super moon! A super moon is basically a full moon on steroids. Then, when you also realize that sunset is at 6pm and the moon isn’t really rising to about 8pm, you think that there might be a chance. A fucking slim chance, but still a chance.

Our group showed up on the Pebble Beach coast that afternoon with the intent of shooting sunset, then stars until the super moon rose and it consequently lit the land like a sunrise. We ended up being disappointed that ocean mist and wind was so strong that is masked the stars out of plain view and even from being recorded by our camera sensors. 

I distinctly remember cracking a beer at that point because Gavriel doesn’t drink, (gotta love the DD) and there wasn’t a star in sight. I figured our group would at least hang around until the moon rose. Maybe it was the beer or the creative juices present when teaching a workshop, but when all the participants turned to shoot the rising moon, I turned to shoot the rocks along the Pacific Coast. 

My calculated exposure was 4 minutes! Right before I released the shutter a car drove by to allow me to see the rocks in the water long enough to set up a composition. I locked off my tripod. Set my camera to bulb and adjusted my intervalometer to 4 minutes. Click.

Settings and Equipment

Canon 1D Mark IV | Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS II lens | Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripod | Acratech Ballhead | Canon Intervalometer

ISO 400 | f/11 | Shutter 4 Minutes | Evaluative metering

Processed using Adobe Lightroom on an Apple iMac.

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