Full moon in Vouliagmeni

Full moon in Vouliagmeni – Blue Moon

It was again Full moon time on August 31 – September 1, and as it was the second one in the same month, it was a Blue Moon. Back in 2010 at about the same time of the year I went out to shoot the moon with my at that time new point and shoot camera, the little Leica V-Lux 20. I was just focusing on the moon and on the maximum detail I could capture with that camera.

This year in May, the moon was at it’snearest position to the earth and I went out to try to catch the moon as well as some landscape. In May the constellation was such as that the moon came up way after the sun-set and there was not much daylight left. My images turned out to be underexposed and there was not much material I could use to do an HDR merger.

Vouliagmeni Full Moon - Blue Moon

This time now I was luckier in as much as the sun set at about the same time as the moon rose and heck, it was fun and I would have wished having a better camera with me.

Moon from the Vouliagmeni – Varkiza route

As in May, I thought it was a good idea to drive along the coast, direction Varkiza, to see the moon rising over the Varkiza bay and then to head back and catch the scene from across the Vouliagmeni bay since the hill behind Vouliagmeni retards the rising of the moon by about 40 minutes.

Vouliagmeni-Varkiza Coast

The above image features the landscape with the horizon – the moon was expected to rise on the right slope of that pyramid shaped mountain. On August 31, 2012 the sun set about 30 minutes after the moon was supposed to rise, which was yet another challenge.

Full Moon 1 When the moon showed up at last, the last sun beams left the landscape with a warm glow and offered a rather romantic sun-set-moon-rise scenario.

This picture was taken at the cam’s maximum focal length, equivalent to 400 mm and the distance to the town and horizon is about 8 km. I thought this was pretty cool for a small point and shoot cam.

Having taken a bunch of shots from the rising moon at that place, I then drove down to Varkiza town to give it another try. Within the two minutes it took me to get there, the sun had set and the light completely changed.

A fishing boat leaving the port contributed to the interest of the image.

Varkiza Full MoonThe light had reached about the stage where you see about just gray tones and I thought it was a nice opportunity to produce one of those vintage type of images filtering with a gradient sepia map.

Again a sweet result and best of all, there is still some detail to the moon.

More realistically, the scene presented itself rather like the next image, whereas the moon is over-exposed and the landscape under-exposed, which shows the interest in working this out with an HDR tool.

Back to VouliagmeniVarkiza Full Moon 2

The daylight was decreasing fast now and if I wanted to catch the rising moon in Vouliagmeni, I had to quickly head back to get ready for a spectacular show.

The spot selected for the images as just across the town center near the entrance to Astir Beach, from where I was expecting the moon to rise just above the town and its hills.

The Photographer’s Ephimeris

You might wonder how I had planned my timing and selected the locations from where I would get a nice angle for the images. The answer is: The Photographer’s Ephimeris, a tool helpful for landscape and other photography where light, sun (or moon) rise and set are of importance. The tool combines rising and setting times with a worldwide map. It’s a fantastic free tool you can grab from HERE.

Where ever you place the pin on your local map for a given date, the graphic will indicate the angle from where the sun or moon will rise and set as well as the time; you then just need to take into account the elevation and distance to the horizon to approximate the exact time for the given location. Try it, you will adopt it.

Full Moon in Vouliagmeni

I reached my observation location just before the moon and had enough time to mount a tripod, which I did not use for the previous pictures as there was strong wind and still enough daylight.

This is how Vouliagmeni by night presented itself just after 8 pm:

Vouliagmeni by NightThe moon was supposed to show up from behind the hill on the right side of the above image and just a few minutes later the planning proved to be correct:

Vouliagmeni by Night 2

Now things went quickly; I am always surprised how speedy that moon rises!

Full Moon

The image is heavily under-exposed to catch some detail of the surface of the moon, which leaves the foreground painted in black.

Just a minute later we adore the beauty of our companion:

Vouliagmeni Full Moon

The town is under exposed but not enough to give the moon some texture. Bracketing helps and allows then to merge pictures using the HDR tool to get a well exposed moon as well as  a town featuring more detail.

Vouliagmeni Full Moon 3

Note the airplane crossing the frame on the left side.You can even see a few stars in the sky (click for a larger view).

Now, as the technical part is taken care of, there is no limit to play with artistic modes and test different HDR settings and filters as for example the below version:

Vouliagmeni Full Moon HDR FilteringTechnical Data

The last image was exposed for 8 seconds at f/5.6 and a focal length of 90 mm equivalent, bracketing starting at +2 and ending at -2. ISO 400 and aperture priority.