the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Moonrise on Seattle

Seattle MoonriseIf you’ve followed my posts lately, you know I recently took a day trip to Seattle. The earlier portions of the trip were described in my Cherries of the Dawgs and More from Seattleposts.

Space Needle

Space Needle about 30 minutes after sunset, but before moonrise. Note you can't tell if the horizon is clear or not.

One of the main goals of the trip was to photograph the full moon rising over the city. Using the program, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I planned where I should shoot the moon as it rose. I calculated that the moon would rise close to the Space Needle if photographed from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in the Magnolia area, just west of the Magnolia bridge. Early in the day I drove by this park to scout out where I should shoot from. I picked a spot by the parking lot that looked like it had the perfect view of the Space Needle.

As I photographed throughout Seattle that day, I worried whether the clouds would obscure the view of the rising moon. The eastern horizon never did look very clear. When the sun got low over the Olympic Mountains west of Puget Sound, I left the downtown waterfront, where I had been working, and headed back toward Magnolia.

I had selected the Parkmont Place viewpoint for a sunset shot. This long, narrow park along the Magnolia bluff top offers a number of viewpoints looking west over Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains. As I crossed the Magnolia Bridge heading toward Parkmont Place, I drove by the Ursula Judkins Viewpoint I had scouted earlier. There was one photographer there; he had a tripod set up in the exact spot I had earlier picked out.

The sunset was okay, not great; but I did get some nice shots of the ferry MV Wenatchee as it steamed from Bainbridge to Seattle and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it cruised northward on the Sound. The sun set around 7:45 p.m. A little before 8:00, I drove back to Ursula Judkins for  the moonrise at 8:18 p.m. The drive took about 3 minutes and the eastern sky was mostly cloudy. I couldn’t tell if it was clear on the horizon.

When I arrived at the viewpoint, the one other photographer had morphed into about 30 photographers! I was lucky to get the last parking spot in the park. The spot I had earlier picked out was now crowded with about 15 tripods. I set up at the car and then walked over there with my tripod. I had my small tripod with me, and it was not tall enough to get a clear view without other tripods and photographers in the way. I moved, and ended up back near my car, where with my 70-200 zoom lens I could isolate the Space Needle well.

I snapped a few frames of the Space Needle as darkness descended, still unsure if the moon would show through the clouds. Then an orange glow appeared in back of the Cascade Mountains. Soon, the moon was an orange ball shining through thin clouds immediately over the mountains. Minutes later, it rose further and was hidden by clouds. It made one more partial appearance, but then was again obscured. Most of the other photographers were still there when I left, hoping the moon would again show before it got too high in the sky. But I left, with the drive back to Tacoma in mind. I’m happy with the moonrise shot I did capture; I hope you agree.

MV Wenatchee

The ferry Wenatchee steaming toward Seattle on Puget Sound.

Carrier at Sunset

The USS John C Stennis sailing north on Puget Sound at sunset. The Olympic Mountains are in the background.

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8 responses

  1. WOW!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

  2. hmunro

    Stunning … beautiful … breathtaking … I’m at a loss for adjectives! A day (trip) well spent, I’d say!

    April 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    • What can I say but thank you. It definitely was a day well spent.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

  3. Absolutely crazy about the first shot!! Terrific!! :) **

    April 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

  4. Joe: I forgot to sign into WordPress so I’m entering this again…Great composition and depth of field. Keep sending us these wonderful images.

    April 29, 2012 at 3:37 am

    • Thanks; I’ll keep posting images, can’t say they will all be wonderful, but I’ll try.

      April 29, 2012 at 8:17 am

  5. sss

    Joe, is that an HDR? Your reply would be appreciated, amateur learning here :)

    June 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

    • No, this is not HDR. It’s a single shot processed in Adobe Lightroom 4. Because it was taken right at moonrise, the moon is less bright than when high in the sky, so it is possible to work with one exposure. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

      June 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

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