February (Almost) Full Moonrise

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Ah, it was that special time of month again: the Full Moon.

I revolve around it. The event, I mean. I watch it build daily from New Moon, rising later and later each day, until finally it rises at sunset time. That’s why it’s full then: it’s exactly opposite the sun, reflecting its light off its otherwise dark, barren surface.

I especially like scenery photos with the moon in them. However, you have to include the moon in them while there is still enough daylight on the scene. Otherwise you have yet another boring pic of the black sky with the bright moon as a little circle in it. We sure don’t need any more of those.

So usually the best time to make moonrise photos is the day before Full Moon. Why? Because the moon rises somewhat before sunset, but is so close to Full that it still looks fantastic. You have both the moon low on the horizon, and the scene still in daylight, either with the low angle of the setting sun or the soft pastels of dusk. Such as this windmill and water tank on a ranch on the outskirts of Chino Valley, Arizona. The following evening would have the moon rising about 50 minutes later (it varies a little, but that’s a good general rule of thumb), and the scene would probably be too dark to have these nice tonal values and colors. (Also, the following night was cloudy, so this night was the night for that reason, too.)

Next time: how to use a fantastic app called The Photographer’s Ephemeris to help you plan your moonrise and moonset shots.

Photo location: Chino Valley, Yavapai County, Central Arizona Highlands.

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