It's a ball of rock 380 odd thousand kilometers from the earth and it's our only permanent natural satellite - something that orbits around the Earth. Every month as it goes through it's lunar cycle we get to see a full moon, as the sun sets on west, almost at the exact same time the moon rises in the east. Being totally opposite each other the sun's light reflects off the moon's face and we get to see it in it's full glory.
So what's the fascination with it. I don't know really - I always had a thing for it I guess, but I know exactly the moment when I've wanted to capture it. Few years ago I came across this video clip - Full Moon Silhouettes by Mark Gee aka The Art of Night. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to watch it now, and then come back right here :)
Like many people I was fascinated, intrigued, amazed and I was also wondering how was he able to capture this so beautifully. I became a instant fan of Mark, and have been following him since - he was also named Astrophotographer of the year in 2013. At about the same time - I had been looking into upgrading my camera - I had sold my point and shoot camera about a year back, and looking at an interchangeable lens camera, I saw a deal online and after reading a few reviews I brought my first "serious" camera. Since then I have been trying to capture the moon and the night sky (and everything else really)
Fast forward a few years, and back to a last month - Full moon July 2016. I have been thinking about capturing a iconic moon shoot, maybe against the city or another land mark. I had seen a photo from earlier in the year with the moon and sky tower - another amazing shot. There is a bit of planning required to get this sort of a shot, and also for the weather to play ball. I had started using a app called TPE - well known in the photography circles - it will let you know exactly where the sun and moon is going to rise and set, as well some technical data, that I don't fully understand yet, but it's a great tool.
Along with the planning there is also which day the moon is going to rise, weekday or weekend? Can I get to location after work etc, for the July moon rise - it was a Wednesday evening. And it was a fair day, I set my sight one of local east coast beaches - Castor Bay and try to capture the moon coming over Rangitoto. It was fantastic - and this laid the platform for what I wanted to do with City Moon Rise.
Initially I had thought West Harbour would be the location to get the shot from but TPE was saying it wasn't going to line up, I saw a piece of land sticking out on the map - Te Atau Peninsula! There is a walkway there, placed my marker and thought this could work. Now it was a waiting game for the next good moon rise, August came along and the weather started to break, we had a few days of great weather, full moon day was coming up!
Thursday 18 August - Full Moon. It was looking promising. Only one thing - it was a work day - sux! Moon rise was going to be 5.38pm, and Google was saying about 35 mins to the location. i.e. giving me 3 minutes spare to set up! And this is pretty much exactly how it turned out. As I got to Te Atatu Peninsula, I parked the car, rushed out with my gear - I knew I had to walk along the track a little bit to get the positing, but at this stage it was bit of a guessing game. There was a little beach - I decided to go right to end of this and setup my time lapse shot - I framed up and took one test shot, set up my intervalometer and crossed my fingers - I just let it go.
There was some cloud on the horizon, I couldn't see the moon at all. The time lapse was going, at this point I thought maybe this wasn't going to be the day. A couple of minutes pass and I see it - just a little of that moon behind the clouds and behind the Sky Tower!! This was it, I have my other camera on hand - change lens quickly and start taking handheld shots with this. At the same time a few locals are on there evening walk. One stops and tells me about the amazing sunrises from there especially with the early morning fog, he has not seen the moon yet. I point behind him and tell him about the moon - there is gasp! and a "wow" There is another photographer further down the path setup with tripod and all, say a quick hi as I carry on taking a few shots.
A lady in a car calls me over, she's eating her dinner. She tells me in amazement - "I just saw the moon right behind the Sky Tower!!" and stated she couldn't believe how fast it moved!! She asked me a few questions and then explained she didn't want to go home to eat dinner because she was so amazed by this sight.
I'm now a bit far away from my time lapse camera setup, it must have 20-30 minutes. I head back towards the beach, time lapse has finished in the way of the battery running out. But it's OK - I have about 300 shots and I have it - This is the City Moon Rise: