With the biggest and brightest Supermoon for decades to come heading my way I was trying to figure out the best spot to capture the celestial vision when a friend called and asked if I was up for a moonlight ride to the valley floor of Yosemite National Park to try and capture some of the moonlit sights.
Our plan was to head to the ever-popular Yosemite Falls to try and capture the elusive moonbow, a rainbow illuminated by the full moon. The Supermoon had the potential to bring us a spectacular photo opportunity. With every lens I own, a tripod, electronic camera release and a flashlight we headed out along with my fiance to capture the landscapes.
Arriving well after dark, Yosemite is still a beehive of activity. Headlamps bobbed in the darkness as hikers set out for night hikes and we carried our gear toward the falls. The light from the Supermoon was bright we didn’t event need flashlights to show us the trail as we walked among the shadows cast from the moon.
With cameras attached to tripods and lenses in place the first hurdle quickly materialized, focusing in the dark. Autofocus is all but useless and the fine matte focusing screen was near useless. I switched to guesstimating the distance on the lens distance scale, not quite infinity seemed to work the best. Time exposures of no more than 30 seconds kept star trails from creeping into the photos. Adjusting f-stop and ISO sensitivity and small time increments locked down the exposure.
The moonlight gives an odd quality to the picture, almost ethereal. Shadows are deep in the cliff face with very little other light reflecting in. Water seems to glow on the rock face and the stars abundant in the sky. We never caught the moonbows, the angle must have been off but we were rewarded with eerie landscapes glowing in the dark. After we finished with the falls we stopped to photograph a meadow and El Capitan awash in the moonlight. We never did take any pictures of the Supermoon itself but I was more than content to capture the landscapes awash in the moonlight. A great trip under the stars and light of the Supermoon.