When you are trying for the classic moonrise over the city of Washington, DC, everything has to go perfectly. Several of us made the effort on October 26th, knowing the weather would be bad on the following night, the night of the full moon.
We also knew before we arrived that conditions would not be perfect because the moon was coming up 15 minutes before sunset and it likely would be too high in the sky by the time the twilight blue was at its peak and the illumination of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and US Capitol were in balance with the ambient light still in the sky. We also knew that the clouds could pose problems.
But, when we arrived, there was an additional problem. The Marine Corps Marathon had been held on the previous day and our chosen location (near the Marine Corps Memorial) was also the location of the finish line for the race. A massive disassembly effort was underway.
Unexpected Obstructions, 20 Minutes before Moonrise
Passing Truck, 4 Minutes after Moonrise (not visible yet)
But, aside from the occasional passing vehicle, there was nothing that was directly obstructing the view. By 6:15, the official time for the sunset, the moon was already pretty high and it was still too bright to see the illumination on any of the buildings below us.
Clouds obscuring the moon at Sunset (6:15 PM)
At 6:30, the twilight was a nice blue color, the clouds had abated, but the moon was too high.
Ideal Twilight, 15 Minutes after Sunset (6:30 PM)
So the only solution was to back off the focal length, and take the full scene and then do some post processing cheating. The image above was taken with the telephoto zoom extended to 200 mm and the moon in its actuual location at the time. The image below, taken a few seconds later with a 145 mm focal length, shows the moon in a decent location. But it was just “moved” down during the postproceesing from where it was at the time the image was taken. Not a bad result, but not something I will post on my website or offer for sale.
“Manufactured” Moonrise over Washington
- If one wants to capture an image of the moon rising over the “Big Three” (Lincoln, Washington, and US Capitol), the specific location is right in front of the Netherlands Carillon a short distance south of the Iwo Jima Memorial.
- Using the well-known app “The Photographer’s Ephemeris,” the moon should be rising at an Azimuth reading of about 85 degrees.
- For ideal twilight conditions along with the lighting of the “Big Three,” the moonrise time should be about 15 minutes after sunset.