For the past 6 months or so, I've been essentially working two jobs, my regular, full-time Software Engineer position, and also supporting the growing customer base for my wife and my software consulting business, JLB Web Consulting, which has been adding 10-30 hours a week on top of that. Fortunately, I get to do both jobs from home!
So, as a little reward to myself for working those hours, I bought myself a Canon 5D mk II DSLR body. I've been using a Canon 30D for a number of years now, but have been extremely curious about the 1080P video capabilities of the 5D (which has been proven as a primary camera filming a number of feature films and TV shows). So I dropped the hammer and bought one. I've also been various curious how shooting with a full-frame sensor is.
As it arrived in my hands on Thursday, I haven't had a chance to put it to any sort of real work yet. However, the "Supermoon" full moon of March 19 would be a great target. Disasters and earthquakes aside, this full moon, do to its eliptical orbit, makes it 14% larger than when it is at its farthest point from earth, which makes it a great subject to shoot, given a decent foreground subject.
How to find a foreground object?
My first inclination was to photograph the moon rising over the crags of the Cascades, perhaps over Baring Mountain, Pilchuck or Three Fingers. However, how was I to calculate where the moon would rise over those peaks and find a proper viewing spot? My first inclination was to use Google Earth, my trusty sidekick. However, GE only projects the sun, not the moon. That would not work.
After Googleing around, I found this most incredible tool that was tailored for exactly this purpose: finding an optimal location to position the sun or moon behind an object! It is called "The Photographer's Ephemeris". It is an Adobe Air-based application that uses Google Maps and various astronomical calculations to help you find your spot.
After using this tool, I found that Baring wouldn't work, as the valley floor of the Snohomish River requires the moon to be to the SE, rather than ESE. Pilchuck would be a great candidate. I found a few good locations, however, my mind wandered to the Space Needle. How cool would it be to put the observation deck of the Needle over the full moon?
I have done this in the past, but I was too close to get the right effect:
The tool found that the area south of Magnolia, near Smith Cove as well as the Elliot Bay Trail would provide good positions for this, however, it would not get to be. I had a previous plan to go to see a movie when the moon was to rise. So I canned it.
However, I revisited the idea of the Space Needle for sunday, and according to TPE, the moon would still be 99.9% illuminated!
So I replotted the time, and this time, calculated that the top of the Needle (600 feet) would be 3.25 degrees above the horizon at 2miles away (Smith Cove). TPE even lets you plot the visible altitude you want. Perfect. I found the spot to go to, within 100 feet, plenty of room to dial in the perfect shot. If its clear.
So, here's what TPE says for Sunday, March 20, at 9:47pm, the moon, right behind the Space Needle's observation deck:
I'll post photos on Monday, if it works out.