Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sturgeon Moon - Fail

Or – sometimes you don't get what you want, but you get something else

My ephemeris told me that the moon, the Sturgeon Moon, the full moon of August, would set behind Point Ybel just minutes before sunrise this morning. I headed for Bowditch Point, once again to try to catch the Sanibel Lighthouse silhouetted in front of the orb of the setting moon. I try year after year, but the moon always gradually, imperceptibly, fades into nothingness before it reaches the horizon, or else it is completely obscured by clouds. As I drove I could see the creamy orange moon peeking at me through wispy haze in the west. Crossing the bridge, Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon played on the radio.

When I get to the beach I see that the moon is completely hidden behind clouds - large, growing, billowy cumulus clouds. A change of plan. There would be no moonset. But I love big clouds. Maybe these would deign to give me a picture. Stevie Nicks' voice echoes through my head as I swap the telephoto lens for a wide-angle zoom. I whistle the tune.

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?

The bluish clouds grow against the dark sky as it gradually lightens. I hope the sun will give them some color and definition as it nears the underside of the horizon behind me. And I wish I had a foreground, but the on-going beach re-nourishment project has completely denuded the beach of its driftwood and snags.

The sun kisses the tops of the clouds and turns them pink. The color slowly creeps down the billows, becoming golden. I occasionally make an exposure. As the sky grows brighter, I add a graduated neutral density filter to lighten the dark water in front of me, still in shadow. I wish I had a foreground.

I hear a motor. A shrimper rounds the point a couple of hundred yards north of me, and heads out, following the channel. I wait for her to enhance my composition. She recedes into the distance more quickly than she nears my cumulus backdrop. Finally - but she is small in the frame. I pop off a few frames as the shrimper heads for the clouds on the horizon. I close in for one shot at the long end of the zoom range - forty millimeters. That's the one.

The clouds grow and smear, losing their definition, becoming overcast. Looks like I might get caught in the rain, so I head back for the car as Stevie sings in my brain.

She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness

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