An occasional habit of ours is enjoyment of company while viewing the effects of sunset from our east facing patio. The Sunday of January 20, 2019 I prepared for total lunar eclipse by researching moon rise. Online charts (search for “moonrise”) give the time and compass heading for particular locations.
This departing cruise ship was in line of sight and I was disappointed to have missed effect of the reflected sunlight on the myriad windows we so often enjoy with friends. The preceding and following photographs present an illusion of a cruise ship appearing larger than the full moon, the effect of the much larger body viewed from an enormous distance.
In these photographs a newly risen full moon appears to emerge from ocean cloud cover. A full moon is a requirement of a lunar eclipse, it is not possible to have an eclipse without a full moon, although the reverse is not true.
The apparent large size of the moon low in the sky is an optical illusion caused by the alignment of vision with earth-bound objects on the horizon.
A simple experiment is to find a pebble that is the same size as the newly risen full moon when held at arm’s length. Wait until the orb is well up and apparently smaller. You will find the same pebble covers the moon. On the horizon or high above, the full moon covers the same angular diameter.
The landscapes I capture, like the face of a missing friend, fade gently from memory. My piece “Moon Fin Canyon de Chelly” became a mysterious vision. I remembered the context, the canyon topology was lost until I constructed the panorama, above, from three shots taken one evening, July 2008, from a cliff near the White House Overlook. Five years after my visit with Sean Wills, Pam and I returned to Canyon de Chelly to walk the same path.
At that time, a 50 mm lens was my widest angle, so I would take multiple images in sequence and use Photoshop later to construct a panorama. This past Sunday afternoon I spent stitching together my work from 2008. In doing so I see “my fin”, in the center, bordered by the canyon road, is attached to the White House Ruin cliff via a thin ridge.
During that session a photogenic thunderhead, lit by the evening, hovered behind the fin as the gibbous moon did that long ago evening.
Driving from the Petrified Forest National Park my son, Sean, and I arrived at Chinle, Arizona the evening of Monday, November 2, 2003. No time to rest or eat after checking into the Best Western he and I reached the White House overlook and trail head with the sun low in the sky, the sun sets 6:45 pm these last few days of Daylight Savings. The Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Savings, so the click jumps crossing the border from Arizona to Reservation.
I was 50 at the time and with Sean graduated from SUNY Maritime and fresh from a tour at sea we made good time to the canyon floor. I wanted to catch the White House in the setting sun.
This morning, 14 years later, I published a fine art photograph from that trip.
Looking along the canyon, over thick stands of Russian Olives, I caught the risen moon, in gibbous phase, against a mid-canyon freestanding fin of red sandstone of the southern canyon wall.