Capturing a Supermoon: Stout’s Point

Supermoon, supermoon, why all the confusion.  A Supermoon is simply put a moon that becomes full within two hours of pericynthion.  Pericynthion is the scientific fancy way of saying the closest Earth’s satelite Luna — aka ‘The Moon’ — comes to Earth.

What made the Novemember supermoon special was the fact that on this particular pass, Pericynthion was the closest it had been to Earth since 1948.

Preparation is as much a factor in photography as is equipment.  Unable to see the Supermoon at pericynthion, I setup to photograph moonrise that evening.  I was not alone.  There were a number of people at Stout’s point.  In fact it was about as busy as I’ve ever seen the little park without a group visiting it.

Night sky photography presents several technical challenges as exposure times increase.  The use of a tripod becomes required and better yet, a means to remotely trigger the shutter release as well.  When you need to put all these things together, your best bet is to arrive early, and find your spot and prep your gear before sunset.


Stout’s Point is perhaps more commonly remembered by visitors to Arkansas’ Petit Jean State Park as Petit Jean’s gravesite and overlook.  Looking to the West, the sunset was throwing lovely colors in the sky as dust approached.  And in taking these pictures I was able to gain experience in working with the Nikon WMU app on my iPad to wirelessly set exposure metering and release the shutter.

Take a moment and think on that a moment, I was able to set my Nikon on a tripod, and back away from it almost 40 feet away and still make adjustments to where the camera was measuring exposure and focusing as well as take pictures.  Only think I couldn’t do was nudge the tripod head to keep tracking my subject.  Maybe I could build a remote pan and track head….   I digress.

As the Sun set, everyone started asking about the supermoon, it was after all why there were so many people there.  I whipped out my iPhone and pulled up an Argumented Reality planetarium app and started looking for where the moon would rise.  I found my spot where my camera would not be in anyone else’s way and sat to wait.

Just on cue, Luna began to rise.  I wanted to catch her when the atmosphere distorts her shape, but a focus error ruined the effect.  By the time I got the focus to cooperate, Luna had her shade right, but the colors were deep and rich.

Super Moon rising over Morrilton, Arkansas as seen from Stout’s Point.

I also found I had a serious case of lens envy.  Oh did I have lens envy.  I had the shortest DSLR lens there at 200mm.  The big guy of the evening brought a birding lens that could zoom out to 600mm but he was sticking to the 400mm range for light propagation.  For all of that, we had a number of people trying to use their cell phone cameras, with flashes firing and lots of selfie-fails.

The excitement of the moonrise began to wane and the crowd started to thin, and I was able to start to focus on more artistic setups.

Artisticaly filtered Supermoon over Morrilton, Arkansas

I’m really proud of this one, both for the composure and for the way I’ve made the moon look like the Sun.  After applying a few filters to the raw image, it inspired me to try to reverse the process and I came up with this…

Artisticly filtered sunset at Stout’s Point.

… Making the sun appear as the moon.

One never knows where the post-production can take an image.  And thats one of the ways to express as photography as art in and of itself.


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