Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Quasi Valentine's Lunar Special

On a sunny but wispy cloud filled day back in January of 2009 I managed to capture a heart shaped cloud next to the moon...

This is a very rare moment I captured one sunny day back in 2009. I almost missed seeing this heart shaped cloud drift by the moon, thankfully fate made me go outside just in time with all my gear to capture it.
Shot @ 50mm 1/60s f/11 ISO100 ~4:12pm PST 01.03.2009

So here's the background story on this picture. It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon here in San Jose, CA and there were thin wispy bits of clouds and contrails slowly drifting all over the sky. The moon was in its waxing crescent phase crossing the afternoon sky. I set my HV30 up on a tripod trying to clear as many power lines as possible from my backyard view and let it shoot the moon at the widest angle so that I could later watch the concert of clouds dance with the moon.

I would go out every 20 minutes or so to check on cloud conditions and such but would usually go back inside once I was sure the moon wasn't going to leave the frame. On my 2nd or so trip out to check on my camera I was looking up in the sky and saw IT! It being this giant heart shaped cloud off the right(west) of the moon and high in the sky. AND IT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS GOING TO FLOAT BY THE MOON! I ran back inside and got my XTi setup with my Sigma 50-500mm "the Bigma" lens. I went back out by my video camera and setup for some hybrid still action.

Fortunately this giant heart shaped cloud DID pass by the moon as I guessed it would and I was able to capture just a few shots of it in that time. Even though the clouds were moving slowly I was rather inexperienced with capturing short lived moments then. I remember it seeming like it took me forever to get my tripod setup and leveled and trying to adjust focus properly. I do wish that I had done a better job framing the moon more to the right rather than in the center of the frame. But I was also really worried about chopping off any of the heart cloud off since I only had 50-500mm on a crop sensor body to work with. I wished I could go just a bit wider than 50mm with my Bigma. However the only wider lens I only owned then was the kit lens and never cared for the medium quality images it produces compared to the Bigma. So in the end I'm actually really satisfied with what I captured :)

Here's a link to a 20x sped up clip of the video I shot that afternoon. The heart shaped cloud comes into view at about the 1m20s point in this clip. The orientation of the video camera was extremely dutch to avoid power lines (which can be seen at the very bottom of video frame) so it won't match the stills which I do believe are proper level orientation.

Valentine Cloud & Moon from Lunarphile on Vimeo.

In addition here is the moon at 500mm taken just a minute before the heart cloud picture in this post. This was taken moments after the heart cloud passed over the moon and before the wispy bits of clouds came back in frame at 500mm.

Shot @ 500mm 1/60s f/11 ISO100 ~4:10pm PST 01.03.2009

The wispy cloud beauty continued throughout the afternoon. Here is one of the other shots I liked from that day.

Shot @ 50mm 1/60s f/11 ISO100 ~4:47pm PST 01.03.2009

I wish I had spent more time outside taking stills but was probably being lazy and playing video games inside or something and just left my video camera to capture the action for me. I'll consider posting a realtime or at least less sped up version of video with audio and maybe some hybrid still action next week when my Vimeo HD allotment for the week resets.

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