Full Moon over the Flatirons
Full Moon over the Flatirons, Boulder Mountain Parks, Colorado
As with many of my favorite photographs, making this image of the moon setting over the Flatirons took a combination of a lot of planning and a lot of luck. I started my planning by using a scientific calculator and basic trigonometry to calculate the elevation, in degrees, of the skyline of Green Mountain as seen from Chautauqua Meadow. Then I consulted a now-obsolete computer program I had which gave me the angle (compass bearing) and elevation of the moon for any day in the year, anywhere in the world. (Today I'd simplify the whole process by using two great apps, the Photographer’s Ephemeris and Sun Surveyor.) After much trial-and-error, I found a day in 1996 when I should be able to go to Chautauqua and see the nearly full moon hanging over the Flatirons at the moment of sunrise. On the appointed day, I set up my 4x5 field camera 15 minutes before sunrise and waited. Unfortunately, a persistent cloud bank to the east promised to kill the warm glow of sunrise that I hoped would put the finishing touch on the image I envisioned. Frustrated, I broke down the camera and started driving home a few minutes before sunrise. I had gone less than a mile, however, when I saw the sun burn through the low cloud just as mist gathered around the Flatirons. Berating myself for my impatience, I pulled a fast U-turn, drove back to Chautauqua, set up again in haste, and was able to capture this image just before the mist and glow faded.