The night of January 30th of this year, was the rise of the Wolf Moon.  Always on the lookout for interesting photo ops,  my best buddy Libby and I packed up our gear, bundled up in winter gear, and headed out to the Fort Stanton military cemetery with our thermos of  “enhanced” coffee.  We knew we had to catch the moon as soon as it rose.  Any later, it would be too bright and too small.  As we hunted through our gear under the light of one low power flashlight, we notice that as the horizon was beginning to glow with moonlight, a layer of clouds was descending as well.  There is nothing like a couple of photographers on a mission, and we were determined to make a picture right there amidst the monuments and graveyard crosses.  We had a great view of the horizon; if only the night sky would cooperate.

Gearing up for the rise of the Wolf Moon


Lesson 1:   Test your gear before the event.

I brought along my 200 mm manual focus zoom and teleconverter to use with my Nikon D200.  it was kind of a last minute decision.  Every body knows that any worthwhile shot of the moon requires a hefty telephoto.  Mine was far from hefty, so I was hoping the teleconverter would help.   Got everything set up, lens and teleconverter mounted (in the light of a puny flashlight –see lesson 2!), then had problems with the exposure.  Too dark to read the manual so had to punt.  Realized that I would have to set the
f-stop by turning the ring instead of relying on the camera reading it (DUH! . . . how soon we forget our trusted film cameras!).      We had approximately five minutes to get a decent shot as the moon rose through the layer of clouds that covered the horizon.  The shot below was at a focal length of 300 mm on a Nikon D200,  1/8 sec at f11 (obviously on a tripod)


Lesson 2  Make several flashlights part of your regular camera gear.

After dropping lenses, flashes, coffee cups etc, we decided that we needed to get head-mounted lights for any other night shoots we do.  Either that or grow an extra arm (for holding a flashlight). 

Lesson 3  Know your camera (and I mean REALLY know your camera!)

You have to know the differences between the metering and focus settings among many other things.  Libby’s camera “refused” to take a picture because it couldn’t auto focus on the moon, and using a flash to help the camera  “see” the moon better was an exercise in futility ( LOL . . .how many miles from earth is the moon?!) 



Experience is always the best teacher.  We stretched our boundaries as photographers and learned some valuable lessons for our next full moon shoot, and we had a ton of fun and laughter!