Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Anticipating Sun and Moon Alignments
I'm bumping this forward in my blog so you can plan to take an amazing sunrise moonset or sunset moonrise shot this coming Monday.
I did this first shot above the old-fashioned way... looking up the full moon rise, arriving and seeing where the moon was, predicting where it was going, and changing my position several times to try to be in the right place at the right time.
Now there's an application that takes a lot of the guesswork out of lining up the sun and moon with natural or man-made objects to take stunning photos. The application The Photographer's Ephemeris allows you to plan a shooting location for a fairly exact alignment with particular landmarks: Free Download
It runs on Google Earth satellite photos, so you can easily see your planned shooting position, it shows you the azimuth angle (compass direction) of the sun and moon at any give time from there, and you can read the elevation angle as well. If the lineup isn't just right as the sun or moon is coming over the horizon, you can adjust your shooting position (at various times and stages in the sun or moon rise) to get just the alignment you want.
View the tutorials for some examples of the capabilities of, and applications for, this program.
Below are my results from researching on TPE a much more subtle event: anticipating and planning for the position of a crescent moon. I identified two positions a couple of blocks apart for two different times, then adjusted my position a few yards onsite to place the moon beside or behind the same courthouse, while avoiding trees or power lines.
So fire up TPE and go give this a try in your area on the next full moon rise (and set), or whenever! Remember to pick a target reasonably far away (say 1/2 mile to several miles) to put the moon alongside, so you can use a long zoom lense and capture the moon really large by it.