Earlier this month, my friend Pablo sent out an email around asking if anyone was interested in photographing the upcoming full moon. Pablo had seen, based on a local azimuth and altitude generator, that the full moon would be rising in the East. In particular, the moon was to rise above / next to the US Capitol building.
To capture this, we met right across the street from the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. From this angle, you can see the US Capitol Dome peak out above the hill that the Washington Monument sits. Thus, with this view, the moon was set to rise in between the two landmarks.
To shoot this, you need a long telephoto lens; preferably 300 mm or longer. That way the lens compresses the distance between the three subjects. Since I don’t have a long lens I like, I borrowed my boss’ old Nikkor 300 mm f/2.8 lens (I’m currently the photo intern at Greenpeace USA). And instead of shooting this digitally, I chose to shoot on film using my Nikon FE.
I initially tried to use the Aperture Priority function of the Nikon FE to shoot this, but I ran into a problem. When using this mode, the meter would indicate the scene only required about a 1.5 second exposure at my aperture (I shot wide open at f/2.8) but then the mirror would lock up and not come back down. Because of this, I switched to bulb mode and using my cable release, took exposures of about 1.5 seconds. I knew the exposure latitude of this film (Kodak Portra 400) would help me if I was slightly off.
I’m not certain if there is a problem with my Nikon FE or if I just need to re-read through the manual again. Despite this, I still was able to get a shot that I was pretty happy with. The moon moved quickly that night and snuck behind the clouds after only appearing for about 10 minutes.
In March, I hope to capture the full moon rising above the Lincoln Memorial. If you are in the DC area, a group of photographers will be meeting up (as long as the weather cooperates) to capture it. Come join us!