I joined over 100 photographers Saturday evening at the Netherlands Carillon to shoot the super full moon rising over Washington, D.C. The moon rose well to the south of the monuments which was not ideal for framing a classic Washington moonrise shot, but the weather conditions were perfect for viewing the moon rising through the sky.
In my opinion, the moon appeared slightly larger and brighter than usual on the horizon, but when it rose into the sky it looked like a rather typical full moon. According to NASA, Saturday’s full moon was the biggest full moon since 1993, reaching its “perigee”, the closest approach to earth in its orbit. Perigee moons are 14% bigger and 30% brighter than moons on the “apogee” side of the moon’s orbit, when it is farthest away from earth.
Keep reading for a sequence of photos of the moonrise and a short video...
Photographing the moon on the horizon is fairly straight-forward since the moon’s light is often equal in brightness to the light of the surrounding landscape. As the moon rises in the sky, however, it becomes much brighter which presents some photographic challenges if one tries to expose both the moon and the surrounding landscape, or monuments, together. I often choose to over-expose the moon to properly expose the monuments.
For Saturday’s shoot, I chose an F-stop of 5.6 and and ISO of 400. I tried to minimize the exposure time since the moon is a moving object and can appear slightly blurred in photographs if the exposure time is excessively long. I also like to bracket photos, or take many photos at different exposures. It’s easy to sort through the photos later to choose the best exposure. Digital photography has many benefits in this respect.
Given the distance that the moon rose south of the monuments, I did not use my highest zoom lens. I choose an 18-200 to give a wider view so I could capture the moon with the monuments. I figured that I can take a zoomed-in photo of the moon from my backyard so if I’m going to make the trip to the Netherlands Carillon I want some landmarks in my photos.
Overall, I prefer shooting the Harvest Moon. It often rises due east of the Capitol, Lincoln, and the Washington Monument and offers some postcard photo opportunities. This moonrise was still quite nice, particularly due to the size and brightness of the moon. If you’re looking for a wallpaper image, here’s a link to a medium resolution version of the photo below.