I have a new camera lens! Yes, after thinking about it for five years and saving up for it, I finally bought a better telephoto lens that will not only allow me to get clearer close-up shots of those OMP owls and eagles, but also higher-resolution photos that can be more easily enlarged for wall art like wrapped canvas and framed photos to sell in the OMP Store. So all around, very exciting photographic news from Old Mission Gazette World Headquarters.
And in my ongoing effort to support local businesses, I bought my new lens at The Camera Shop downtown – at LESS than I found it online, by the way. They’re also super helpful with all my novice camera questions.
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Shooting the Moon
One of my first goals with the new lens was to get a good shot of the moon. I’ve gotten ok shots of the moon before – like this one of the Strawberry Moon in 2016 – but it took a lot of editing to get it to look like that, and I’m hopeful this new lens will kick things up a notch. As luck would have it, a full moon was on the Universe’s schedule for this weekend. Perfect timing, Universe! Thank you!
By the way, this particular full moon is called the “Snow Moon,” according to Native American tradition. The Farmer’s Almanac says it’s so named because this month tends to be snowy (although that hasn’t been true for us this year). Also, because there isn’t a universal consensus on full moon names, some alternative names for February’s full moon include the Hunger Moon, due to the scarcity of food; the Storm Moon, for the turbulent weather; and the Bear Moon, as bear cubs are usually born around this time.
While the actual full moon happened last night – Saturday, Feb. 27 – we decided to start our moon photography adventure on Friday to test things out. As with so many things around here, it didn’t go quite as planned. After deciding that the moon coming up over Old Mission Harbor would be a beautiful shot, I Googled to find the exact time it would rise on Friday – 5:42 p.m.
Google is My Friend
I’m just winging this photography thing, so I did a lot of Googling to figure out what settings to use on the camera and how to get the best moon shot. Everyone says to use a tripod to avoid the shaky-camera effect when you’re holding the camera in your hands. No problem, we stashed our tripod in the car and headed to Old Mission.
Tim decided that Kelley Park would be a great spot to get the moon over the harbor, and that turned out to be a good call. So we pulled into the park around 5:30, got the camera attached to the tripod, and waited for the moon to show itself. I wasn’t sure how the cold air would affect my fancy new lens, so we waited inside the car with the tripod/camera until we saw the moon.
Here’s a tip. If you’re waiting for the moon to come up in the northeast over Old Mission Harbor, don’t park in front of the pavilion at Kelley Park. We didn’t even notice the moon until it was well over the pavilion, at which point I shouted wildly that we needed to get out and get the tripod set up! Panic ensued.
By the time we got everything set up – which really took less than a minute – the moon was already well into the sky. Here’s tip number two. With a long telephoto lens, there’s not a lot of leeway for getting the moon AND the water in the same shot. By that, I mean by the time the moon gets well into the sky, you’re either going to get the moon OR the water, not both.
My only option at that point was to get farther away from the moon and the harbor. So I picked up the tripod with the camera attached to it and scurried towards the road that winds through Kelley Park. Well, as fast as I could scurry through knee-deep snow carrying a tripod and a lens that weighs one thousand pounds.
And of course, that moon only kept getting higher in the sky, so by the time I was a good distance away from my original spot by the pavilion, there was no chance of getting a good shot with the moon and the water.
Eyeing Center Road
At this point, Tim and I both eyed a spot much farther away – as in, up on Center Road, and decided to get in the car and drive up there to see if there was a clear shot of the harbor in between the trees and fields. We did find some good spots up on Center Road between Old Mission Road and Swaney Road, but again, the moon was too high at this point.
Anyway, now we had a plan. We knew what we needed to do. Or so we thought. Saturday night, we headed to Old Mission around 6 p.m. to get everything set up for the 6:59 p.m. moonrise. We’d planned to set up the tripod at the intersection of Mission Road and the Kelley Park driveway. With the new lens, I figured I could always zoom in if need be, but there’s only so much I could zoom out.
But when we got there, I ditched that idea and decided to use my medium-length lens and set up the tripod on the beach. So we did that around 6:30 p.m. and waited in the car for the moon to rise.
Eight Minutes to Moonrise
As a side note, we have a “moon alert” text thing in our Bluff Road neighborhood. If there’s a beautiful moon, we alert the neighbors to go look at it. Right around 6:59 p.m., I’m waiting on the beach at Kelley Park, and I get a text from our neighbors, Pat and Deb. They can see the full moon rising at this point – Moon Alert! – and I tell them we’re in Old Mission trying to get a photo, but no moon yet. It took another eight minutes before we saw a ball of light start to come up over Old Mission Point.
Well … turns out I need to do more Googling. Apparently, the settings I found for a good moon shot are *only for the moon itself. A shot of the moon rising over the water requires completely different settings!
So while I got a great shot of *only the moon after it rose into the sky (I switched back to my new lens for this), my efforts to get a shot of the moon rising over the water were pretty much a bust. You can see the moon and the moonlight on the water, but that’s it. You can’t even see Old Mission Point in the photo, despite my fussing with the photo in Adobe Lightroom when I got home.
A Hazy Mess
Here is the moon shot with the new lens (not bad!), and below that is the shot of the moon and water with the old lens (a hazy mess!). To all my photographer buddies, if you know the best settings for a moonrise over water, feel free to leave a note in the comments section below, or email me at [email protected].
Here are the settings I used for ONLY the moon (found at Photography Life – thank you!), with my Canon EOS Rebel T6i and new lens, a Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens (which, by the way, is about one-third the price of Canon’s lens with the same settings).
- Camera Mode: Manual
- ISO: 100 (Auto ISO turned off)
- Aperture: f/11
- Shutter Speed: 1/100
- White Balance: Set to “Daylight”
So while I learned a few new photography things this weekend, the adventure continues…
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb