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Where to go to photograph full moon near Los Angeles on Saturday, March 3
February 22, 2007 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Where should I go (near Los Angeles) and what should I do, to make a nice photograph of the full moon when it rises on Saturday, March 3rd? I'm thinking someplace in the desert, but I'm open to driving a bit of a ways.

For a few months now, I've been wanting to make a nice image of the rising full moon. I marked March 3rd down in my calendar because it's on a Saturday, and so would allow me to travel and not have to worry about work.

This Ask Question has some tips and links for photographing the moon. I just saw that there will be a lunar eclipse that night. I'm not sure if or how that would impact some of the settings I might choose to use. If anybody knows, please let me know.

I have a Rebel XTi. The longest lens I have is a Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Telephoto Zoom Lens. I also have a Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM Standard Zoom Lens. I'm thinking the Sigma would be the best choice because it's longer, but I don't have very much experience with it yet. Should I think about renting an even longer lens, or should that work? If I should think about renting, from whom should I rent it?

Also, more than tactics, I'm looking for suggestions on setting. I was thinking something in the desert would be nice. I've never been into the desert (much less at night/dusk), so I'm not entirely sure where to go or what to do to minimize the chances that I might die. Someplace reasonably close to a road and help would be nice as long as the image can still be dramatic and interesting. I'll probably spend the afternoon shooting around before setting up for the moon rise, so someplace with some nice scenery would be good too. I'll probably be alone (unless some other budding MeFite photographers in the area would like to come along).
posted by willnot to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
For the desert, most likely Joshua Tree. Easy highway access and a lack of lights once you are in a bit.

You might also consider the colder option of one of the local peaks where you have a clean view to the east. The light of the moon rising behind the hills a bit further out at a down angle might be interesting as well.
posted by Argyle at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2007


As for how the lunar eclipse will affect your shot:
ask google!

(depending on the timing it might affect your shot not at all though).

Renting lenses is not all that expensive, and it's a lot of fun being able to shoot with $5000 chunks of glass! I'd rent the longest lens I can find, if you're going to get it near the horizon (it will look better if you have some context around it rather than just it alone in the sky). The moon subtends about .52 degrees of your view. A 600mm lens on a full frame camera spans about 4 degrees, on your camera it'll be about 2.5 degrees.

You have a tripod, right?

As for not dying in the desert, that's pretty easy. Bring some water. If you're not staying during the day you won't need very much even. The Burning Man folks recommend you bring 1.5 gallons of water per person per day, which is enough to like cook and wash with and wander around in the heat of the day and then have some extra.
posted by aubilenon at 12:02 PM on February 22, 2007


I may be on the wrong wavelength here, in which case just ignore, but if you want the moon and landscape in the same picture (like you see in the movies), using a digital camera, you're going need the intervention of PhotoShop. Doesn't mean your trip won't be a success, just something to keep in mind.
posted by anaelith at 12:09 PM on February 22, 2007


I spent a couple of years living in the Big Tujunga Canyon, and could not stop staring at the night sky there. It has some nice stuff to take pictures of during the day, as well; if it doesn't suit, it's not a long drive from there to desert.

Throw some jugs of water in the trunk, and a few blankets. And bring sweaters; it gets very cold out there after the sun goes down. But you're still quite unlikely to die.

The only other advice I can think of is that you can find large jugs of water at a reasonable price at anywhere that sells anything along the road in or near desert there, but palatable food is hard to come by. Bring a well-stocked cooler.
posted by kmennie at 12:17 PM on February 22, 2007


I may be on the wrong wavelength here, in which case just ignore, but if you want the moon and landscape in the same picture (like you see in the movies), using a digital camera, you're going need the intervention of PhotoShop. Doesn't mean your trip won't be a success, just something to keep in mind.

I don't quite get what you mean, but I would probably beg to differ. Sure that was film, but you can do the same thing with digital without Photoshop trickery.
posted by The Michael The at 12:27 PM on February 22, 2007


taking that shot while in LA proper will be next to impossible, the glow of the lights will be just too strong.

you could try mount wilson above glendale (take the angels crest highway up) or, if you really want to be safe, take the 405 and then the 15 out to mojave. you should find yourself in the desert within 90 minutes and anywhere you pull over there will be REALLY dead dark and quiet. it's amazing at night, there isn't any sound at all and since it's all dark, you can set up your tripod and get a killer 15-minute exposure of the extremely bright and visible stars.

make sure to being a jacket. there are no clouds because the antelope valley is windy (and cold) at night.
posted by krautland at 1:26 PM on February 22, 2007


oh yeah ... you might want to rent some real glass for this.

consider these two shops: http://www.lensprotogo.com and http://www.lensrentals.com both have a solid reputation.

try to get something like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM, the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens Review or, for some real fun, the Canon EF 500mm f/4.0 L IS.

it's worth it!
posted by krautland at 1:31 PM on February 22, 2007


I don't quite get what you mean, but I would probably beg to differ. Sure that was film, but you can do the same thing with digital without Photoshop trickery.
I should qualify that. You can probably get fine daylight photos with the moon in (reading the comments, that photo was taken at four in the afternoon, about an hour before sunset). However, on the day the OP is going the moon isn't even going to be rising until right at sunset. I don't know of any way to get a good night photo with the moon plus scenery, except using double exposures--which of course are out for digital--or post processing.
posted by anaelith at 1:47 PM on February 22, 2007


I don't really think you need to go as far as the desert.

A lot of astronomy goes on in malibu, just to name one place.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:50 PM on February 22, 2007


Remember to use the sunny 16 rule for exposure, as the moon is in bright sunlight even thoug the rest of the picture is not. Even most spot meters will be fooled, though, by the contrast between the moon and surrounding darkness, so put the camera on manual and bracket, bracket, bracket.

(Sunny 16 rule- for brightly sunlight objects, the exposure is approx. 1/ISO seconds at f/16 or equivalent; if your ISO is set at 100, then 1/125 sec at f/16, or 1/250 at f/8, or other equivalent exposure will be about right.)

A nice shot with a DRebel and a telescope is here.
posted by TedW at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


A lot of astronomy goes on in malibu, just to name one place.

well, on a clear night this should work.
chances are though that it isn't a clear one and in that case the desert is a better chance.
posted by krautland at 9:16 PM on February 22, 2007


The poppy reserve east of Gorman, on Hiwy 118, has almost unlimited view of the mojave because of the elevation.
posted by hortense at 10:31 PM on February 22, 2007


I should qualify that. You can probably get fine daylight photos with the moon in (reading the comments, that photo was taken at four in the afternoon, about an hour before sunset). However, on the day the OP is going the moon isn't even going to be rising until right at sunset. I don't know of any way to get a good night photo with the moon plus scenery, except using double exposures--which of course are out for digital--or post processing.

Ah, gotcha. Agreed, then!
posted by The Michael The at 12:58 PM on February 23, 2007


This is a little off-topic, but there is a way to get the moon and scenery in one frame, at night, without overexposure or Photoshop manipulation. If you take a picture of the crescent moon and expose it for the surrounding scenery, the normally dark part of the moon will light up and the crescent will be over-exposed. A good example is here. Of course, a very long exposure and tripod are needed, but I think it is a really cool effect.
posted by TedW at 2:30 PM on February 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Overexposure" should read "multiple exposures"
posted by TedW at 2:31 PM on February 23, 2007


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