Shooting the Moon over Diamond Head

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Shooting the Moon over Diamond Head

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Oahu
Aug 28, 2013

I stood outside Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach one night last week for a couple hours. I watched as the setting sun painted the shallow waters of Waikiki the softest, most beautiful blue I've ever seen. It does this almost every night, and yet each time I visit Waikiki my breath skips and I ooh and aah all over again. I know the color has something to do with the angle of the sun and the sandy ocean bottom, but I am still amazed each and every time. I've not seen this exact color of blue anywhere else in Hawaii, and as you can imagine I've seen my share of oceans at sunset. I can't begin to describe this particular blue. It's a powdery sky blue. A soft turquoise blue. It's a quiet blue. Serene blue. All this. And something else, too.

No wonder Waikiki is such a popular place.

After containing my amazement over the color of the water, I snapped open my tripod and set up my camera. My plan was to catch the full moon, which happened to be a blue moon, ironically, and by blue, I mean the second full moon of the month, not the color blue. Anyway, I wanted to photograph the full moon rising over Diamond Head. At least, that was the plan. But in photography, as in life, plans don't always work out perfectly. But they do work out.

Capturing great photographs of the moon is tough. It usually "blows out." I wanted to get the detail--the shades, the depth, the whole man in the moon thing, so I'd consulted with some photographer friends. The key would be to use a telephoto lens and shoot it with a fast shutter speed. That would mean right at sunset.

I planted myself on the beach 30 minutes before sunset. And waited. And waited.

I watched a man and woman skim-boarding the incoming waves. I chatted with another photographer, a man from Australia. I watched as couples walked hand-in-hand, their feet bare, smiles creasing their faces. I watched children refuse to let the day go, bobbing on colorful inflatables and surfers paddle in after a "surf sesh."

The sun set. The line for Duke's Canoe Club, the famous restaurant behind me, grew long. The sky got darker. Lights popped on around the bay. And I kept having to slow my shutter speed.

It seemed to take the moon forever to climb up Diamond Head and appear in the sky. That's because, the moon didn't rise over Diamond Head. It rose further north in the sky, blocked by some high-rise buildings.

One of the things I love about photography is what it teaches me about nature and about the importance of observation. If I'd studied the rising moon on previous trips to Oahu, I would have known its arc over Waikiki in August, and I would have known there was no way I could get the moon and Diamond Head in the same frame from the vantage of the beach.

Now, I know I need to try again when the moon rises further south in the sky.

But the night wasn't a complete waste. I did shoot a few shots under, over and at exposure and blended them in Nik HDR Color Efex Pro 2 software. The result was this shot. Which I kinda like.

* To celebrate five years and 500 blog posts, I've put together a FREE photo e-book that you can download. It includes information like where I set up to take the shot and my camera settings, so that you can recreate these images, if you'd like. I hope you enjoy.

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Jack | Aug 29, 2013 09:19 AM

Very nice photo. I'm trying to learn HDR photography so I'll be ready when I move to the Big Island in 2014.

Kim | Aug 30, 2013 12:16 PM

You'll love HDR, Jack, especially living on Big Island. I find it can make any time of the day a great time to shoot photography. It pulls out the shadows and heightens the highlights. And talk about color!

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