2016 Harvest Moon

Full Moon

Last night, I ventured to higher ground to photograph the 2016 Harvest Moon. The forecast called for partly cloudy skies, with rain on the way later that night.  I knew it was a long-shot, but I figured that at least Rudy would get a walk out of the deal.  

The Harvest Moon was slated to appear at approximately 7:33pm from my location, so I arrived at the park at about 7:00pm. If you prefer to jump straight to the video, go ahead and scroll down to the end of the post!

Photographing the 2016 Harvest Moon

The equipment I chose to use for this photography venture was quite different from my usual setup.  I used an old full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark 1 , equipped with my Canon 300mm F/4L (Non IS) Lens.  Both of these items were purchased used from ads that appeared on Kijiji.  I highly suggest regularly browsing classified ads in your area for photography equipment.  Once and a while a real gem will appear, and you can save a LOT of money.

Canon 300mm F/4L Non IS Lens
My Canon 300mm F/4L Non IS Lens

This camera/lens combination provided me with the focal length I wanted to capture the 2016 Harvest Moon low on the horizon.  The full-frame 5D does not extend the focal length of my 300mm lens to 540mm (300 x 1.8) like my crop-sensor 7D would have. The goal was to capture some landscape interest around the full moon rising to get a real feeling of what it was like to witness the event.

Between the fact that I did not bring a tripod (I wanted to travel light, probably a bad idea) and the poor low-light capabilities of the old 5D, the task was more challenging than it should have been! Capturing a properly exposed landscape surrounding the Harvest Moon was impossible.  I settled for shooting handheld exposures of about 1/40 to 1/100 at ISO 1600, it was my only chance of getting a crisp shot.

The Moment of Truth 

It was incredibly exciting to see the ultra-pink full Harvest Moon begin to rise from behind the haze of the low atmosphere.  It was a very frantic moment, as I seriously thought that my entire trip was going to be a bust.  I was very fortunate to see the 2016 Harvest Moon, and my efforts were rewarded with a new video documenting the event, some great photos, and of course living in the actual moment and enjoying this incredible celestial event as it happened.

2016 Harvest Moon from St. Catharines, Ontario
The 2016 Harvest Moon as it first appeared, low on the horizon
2016 Harvest Moon
The 2016 Harvest Moon from St. Catharines, Ontario

Camera Settings for the Moon Photos Above:

Focal Length: 300mm
Aperture: f/4
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 1/40
White Balance: Daylight

I process all of my astrophotography and daylight landscape images in Adobe Camera Raw. (ACR) The adjustments I make are typically noise reduction, sharpening, contrast, highlight reduction, clarity, and saturation.  The amount of adjustment for each category varies depending on the subject.  An important factor when processing photographs of the full moon is to not “blow-out” the brightness of the lunar surface.  You can read more about how to take pictures of the moon under the tutorials heading in the main menu.

The perfect end to Summer 2016

What a great outcome despite the questionable weather conditions, and my poor equipment planning. I decided to shoot another video for the AstroBackyard YouTube channel along the way and assumed the footage would go unused because the night was a bust.  

Thankfully, I was wrong.  Let this be an inspiring story for you to remember the next time you question whether to photograph a celestial event or not.  I hope you enjoy the video:

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