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Strawberry Moon

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 5 July 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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Full moonrises traditionally are tagged with their associated Indian names. The June moon is called: Strawberry Moon. This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

Based on past sales of moon images with Getty Images, I know that my most successful stock sales are those that feature the moon large. That was my intent when I set out to capture this month's moon. Technically there were two items I needed to pay attention to in order to pull this shot off. The first would be to position myself so the moon would be in front of some trees as it crested the eastern horizon. I tried scouting the area on the previous evening but due to the thickness of clouds, I was unable to discern the exact location; in fact, my calculations were quite substantially flawed. This actually proved beneficial as the area I predicted the moon to rise had no trees along the horizon. Having these trees is important in our digital age as one will be suspect of Photoshopping the moon into the scene if simply photographed without any foreground.

The second item I had to attend to was in choosing the proper focal length lens in order to isolate. My choice was to use my Canon 400 mmL f2.8 lens with a 2x converter. Instead of shooting with my Canon 1Ds MKIII (full-frame sensor), I opted to use my new Canon 1D MKIV for two reasons: it's 1.3x cropped sensor allowed for an adjusted focal length of 1040 mm, and I could dial up the ISO (in this case 800) without the fear of image-degrading noise. I chose 800 ISO to allow for a 1/30th shutter at f/11. With glass this large, any small vibration can prove detrimental to the overall sharpness of the image. My sacrifice was in total pixels (21 MP to 16 MP), but with the new processor in the MKIV - the trade-off was minimal.

I have mentioned before in posts of other moon images that the reason the moon looks larger along the horizon is because our mind plays tricks on us - it is actually an optical illusion - termed the Ponzo Illusion.

Lastly, when shooting a full moonrise, there is really only one day out of the month where it will rise close to sunset (generally, but not always, the day before the actual full moon). This is important because all of the tonal values in the scene can be captured in one frame (remember, the dynamic range of our digital sensors at best is six stops). I actually had to bump-up the contrast a bit in this scene as the light was very soft.

Lastly, the warm color seen in this moon was from the fact that it crested the horizon one minute past posted sunset. This image was captured three minutes past sunset. There was a beautiful, yet subtle, twilight wedge forming just over this moon and was captured in subsequent frames. This is approximately 2/3's crop of the frame.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV 1/40 second F/11.0 ISO 800 800 mm

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