Super lucky, Super moon
By Darryl Webb
I guess you could call me a lunatic. Not in a bad way, really… I’ve just always been taken with the full moon. So when the “Super Moon” was making this year’s debut I knew I was going to try to get an image of it, despite having to be late to two of my best friends’ 50th birthday parties. I knew they would understand as they know my passion for my work.
The Friday before I had planned to do a little scouting of the moon to see where it was going to rise but missed it by an hour due to the Farmer’s Almanac not knowing that Arizona doesn’t do daylight savings time. That put a little wrinkle in my plans but I still scouted out locations and found one next to the Phoenix Zoo.
Since I knew the park and that it frequently has visitors on top of it, my hope was to get people up on a butte possibly with the moon in the background. But, when I tried shooting from there I was too close. I got a couple of test frames off, but I knew I could do better if I was further back. That was my plan for Super Moon Saturday.
Despite having somewhat of a game plan, I thought about what else represents Arizona and the saguaro cactus came to mind. So that morning my wife and I packed up the dogs and headed 50 miles out of the city to the desert looking for a possible sea of cactus where the moon might rise above or through them. Unfortunately and fortunately I never found that vantage point. Mother Nature began scattering the sky with clouds and I thought my chances were fading fast.
It has happened to me so many times in the past as I chased the moon that I kind of expected it. I even posted on Facebook, “Damn you Mother Nature and your clouds!” thinking I was going to fail because of the cloud cover. Luckily the clouds didn’t play a factor and my chase and planning were not for nothing.
Before heading to Papago Park I wanted to check out one other location that got me high above the city so I could catch the moon cresting over the horizon, but fortunately the parking lot was filled with kids and parents taking photos as they celebrated their high school prom, so I didn’t waste any time there.
I took the roundabout way to the park so I could explore the outskirts and it paid off. As I rounded the corner near a local golf course I saw a group of men on the summit of a butte and a lot of other folks milling around other parts of the mountain hoping to get a view of the “Super Moon” – I knew this is where I would be shooting from.
As I waited my biggest fear was that I was going to get kicked off the public golf course which had locked gates. I was even approached by one of the golf pros but he was cool after I told him what I was doing. I found out they would be locking the gates around 7:30 p.m. so I knew I had a little bit of time since the moon was supposed to rise at 7:08 p.m.
About 10 minutes after 7 I saw it rise above the horizon but I had ugly power lines running through it and I knew I had to find another angle. I moved several hundred yards to the north so a little part of the butte would be in it and obscure the power lines.
Waiting for the moon to crown over the butte, I noticed a couple walking their dog down a trail towards where the moon was peaking and I thought, “Sweet! here’s my shot,” but the couple stopped behind a bush to view the moon and never moved from there (in fact you can see the dog behind the bush in the runner’s image).
But patience paid off. A few minutes later I spied a runner making his way down a trail, and I thought how lucky can I be, and sure enough he ran right through the moon. I got about six frames off as he darted across it. I knew I had my image. Yes the moon was huge, but the runner gave it some scale and it paid off.
I was never a kid who liked homework. In fact, I don’t even remember doing it (if that’s possible). So, in this case, planning and execution was a good thing.
I’d be remiss to say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and in this case I got extremely lucky with the runner coming through as the moon was in that opening – it really made the photo.