In a previous blog, Shooting the Stars, I learned to always expect the unexpected. This was validated once again while on recent travel to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and anticipating the forthcoming lunar eclipse. Mother nature waits for no one and gives what it wants. As a landscape photographer, one must be prepared for anything that nature provides at any given moment.
I have always believed that the most compelling images are those in which the composition provides context. A closeup photo of a wild animal is usually uninspiring. But an image of wildlife in the context of its natural environment can invoke curiosity and wonder. The same holds true for celestial bodies. To avoid the equivalent of a tired cliche, I realized that an image of an early evening moonlit ocean in combination with a supermoon would provide a better chance for compositional success than just an isolated shot of a lunar eclipse. This would not only be a more interesting contextual image, but the narrow dynamic range of light would yield a pleasing light exposure across the entire frame of the photograph.
But the coup-de-grace for that evening would be the remnants of a near tropical storm depression that was churning large oceanic waves off of most of the USA east coast. This powerful storm hovered over the coast for many days, being stalled by a dominant high pressure system up north off the New England coastline. High winds were additionally fed by hurricane Joaquin, further east in the Atlantic ocean. How epic a storm was all this? Parts of the state of South Carolina suffered through two feet of rainfall in several days, causing catastrophic flooding conditions, and purportedly the most continual rainfall in that state since a thousand years.
The winning compositional formula in this dire situation was Large Waves + Supermoon + Early Moonrise (7:00pm, EST) = Photogenic Opportunity. I took advantage of this rare natural phenomenon through systematic preparation and by snapping off many images to capture the unusual wave action, cloud cover, moon phasing, and dramatic lighting conditions. I believe I was successful.
Ten oceanic, moonlit images are available for your review at the tail end of my Sky Gallery, one of which was taken during the early phase of the lunar eclipse at 9:12pm, EST, September 27th. I have also included an image taken on the following evening, of the supermoon juxtapositioned with the brightly lit beacon from the nearby Currituck lighthouse. Enjoy.
See my image gallery at http://dworr.zenfolio.com/sky
D W Orr
Environmentalist, Historic Preservationist, and Photographer
Harford County, Maryland
October 7, 2015