Try and try again

Went out last night as the crescent moon was coming close to setting and tried a few shots, especially trying to get earthshine in there, with poor luck – just not nailing focus, and the necessary exposure for the earthshine was allowing too much vibration. However, I did capture a neat little detail, creating what I call my album cover.

crescent moon with approaching aircraft lights
Those lines of light are from an airliner, moving left to right, and yes it did pass in front of the moon, except I couldn’t get a photo of that. Well, I probably could have, but it would have been total crap. The plane had passed overhead a minute or so before, and I didn’t think much of it, being many degrees away from the moon and not appearing to be heading in that direction, but as it dropped towards the horizon, it banked a little and changed course, and this brought it right across the moon – I just didn’t see it in the distance until it was happening. Meanwhile, to combat vibration that can show up in long exposures at high magnification, I was using a remote release and mirror lock-up, bringing the reflex mirror up several seconds before actually tripping the shutter, so the vibrations from that had enough time to die down, much less those from me handling the camera at all. This was a 2-second exposure, and from the point you see here until the plane had completely crossed the moon was no more than seven seconds, while first I’d had to confirm that I was seeing a plane out there; when the mirror goes up, the viewfinder is useless.

It’s opportunities like this, however, that are about the only reason for me to be out shooting a full moon, because the relative light is a lot brighter, making the shutter speeds slower, and potentially allowing a plane (or satellite) to be silhouetted against the moon’s surface. Provided you can get one to cross that narrow band, which is extremely tricky in itself. Remember that the moon can be blotted out with your thumb at arm’s length, so the patch of sky that any such object has to hit is very small.

But I went out again tonight, not really after any more planes (though I would have taken them had they come along,) but to do the crescent justice. This time, I got a bit sharper results.

crescent moon near moonset
This was with the Tamron 150-600 at 600mm, but with a 2X teleconverter in place, which really isn’t quite 2X, so closer to 1000mm. I did frames both with and without the teleconverter, refocusing and adjusting aperture, and this was the sharpest at the best exposure. Still only minutes from dropping behind the trees, thus the orange color from being near the horizon.

But yes, the goal to have something silhouetted against the moon remains. We’ll see what happens.