Super lucky, Super moon
By Darryl Webb
I guess you could call me a lunatic. Not in a bad way, really… Iâ€™ve just always been taken with the full moon. So when the â€śSuper Moonâ€ť was making this yearâ€™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 Farmerâ€™s Almanac not knowing that Arizona doesnâ€™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, â€śDamn you Mother Nature and your clouds!â€ť thinking I was going to fail because of the cloud cover. Luckily the clouds didnâ€™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 didnâ€™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 â€śSuper Moonâ€ť – 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, â€śSweet! hereâ€™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 runnerâ€™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 donâ€™t even remember doing it (if thatâ€™s possible). So, in this case, planning and execution was a good thing.
Iâ€™d be remiss to say, sometimes itâ€™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.