The Absolute Best Time to Shoot the Moon!

by | Jan 18, 2014 | Stories & Expeditions | 4 comments

Have you ever been outside under a full moon on a completely clear night? You don’t even need a flashlight, it’s so bright! Now imagine that same moonlit night over a landscape of white snow. It’s almost unearthly! Its a phenomenon I have only experienced a few times, but its fantastic effect cause me to wait and watch for it….year after year.

Here in West Virginia, it’s very rare to have snow hang around long enough for there to be a chance for coinciding with the small window of 2 or 3 days when the moon is at it’s fullest. Then, when there is snow, it has to be a perfectly clear night. And that can be rare in West Virginia during the winter.

So, that’s why I was so excited when it snowed right after dark yesterday. The moon was at 96% illumination and there was a good chance that the sky might clear up before morning. I went to bed with the shades lifted from my window so I could tell at any time during the night if the clouds had passed.

Well, my alarm went off at 5:30am and sure enough, it looked as though it was day outside. I looked at the temperature. 17 degrees. Later, I found out that it actually dipped to 12 before sunrise. I bundled up and headed outside with my camera and tripod. But looking up in the sky, I realized that perhaps I had missed my chance. Clouds were moving in quickly.

9057_Salem-West Virginia-USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 32 mm, 1.6 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 800

I only saw two patches of clear sky this morning. But those two patches were worth getting up early for. I don’t feel I got any necessarily spectacular moonlit images, but it was certainly worth the effort for the fun of trying. I nearly froze to death, but if it weren’t for exciting adventures like this, I would probably die anyway of boredom in my office.

If you’re the kind of person who would enjoy this type of experience, I suggest you consider attending the CAPTURE Quebec workshop! February in Quebec. Could it get any more exhilarating than that? Feet of snow. Average temperatures never exceed freezing. February 26 to March 1. Mark it on your calendar! Crazy photographers do crazy things to achieve crazy cool images!

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  1. Judy

    COOL!!! …in many ways!!!

    • James Staddon

      Yeah, Judy, true. Do you recognize the tree?

  2. Katie

    That is very beautiful! I really like how it turned out! I’ve only taken a few moon photos, most were shot in the dead of night. Very cool! 🙂

  3. Paul

    Great tip.

    There’s a fine line between genius and insanity! 🙂


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