photo of the month
from randy kato


In honor of the full moon tonight, and the recent 40th anniversary of our going there, here's a shot of the full moon...on its way toward a total eclipse.

I had photographed lunar eclipses before with varying success. Sometimes clouds would obscure the view, other times an orb in a cloudless sky was kind of boring. This night there were just enough clouds - backlit by what's left of the moon - to make things interesting.

Most eclipse shots concentrate on what's still illuminated. With a little experimentation, I found that adjusting the exposure for the shadowed portion was much more interesting. Similar to the effect that makes sunsets orange, the little light that hits the moon after being filtered/bent through the earth's atmosphere gives it a singular orange glow.

How did I get this picture? It wasn't easy. I dragged four cameras and three tripods out to the edge of Brooklyn in the wee hours of the morning, trying to calculate time and astronomical geometry on the fly to figure out where I should set myself up. All the while my brain kept hitting the snooze button.

Eventually, I found a spot near the base of the Verrazano Bridge and tried to do even more math in order to set up experiments in multiple exposures (with an antique Polaroid that has no light meter) and time-lapse photography. "Ambitious!" you say? I guess that's how my sleep-deprived brain was seeing things - though recounting it now, some less flattering adjectives come to mind.

Once I had myself set up, I had hours to experiment and, well, not much else to do. So I played around a lot. Trial & (lots of) error, and a foggy brain can be a great recipe for creativity.

I must have been a rather odd spectacle with my crazy array of equipment, some of it coming to life on its own once every minute, others activated with release cables and remote controls and an alarm going off every few minutes causing me to jump up and manipulate the old Polaroid. Lucky it was kind of an out of the way spot and there really aren't many people out and about in the pre-dawn hours of a Tuesday. Then again, the ones who are lurking about....pretty strange (no, the irony is not lost on me).

Anyway, if you're interested, here are the results of those experiments: multiple exposure, time-lapse. And here are a few more photos from that night.


Photo of the Month archive