Supermoon Lunar Eclipse at Rainier

On September 27, I (like almost everyone else in the world), planned an evening to watch the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. Right after my typical Sunday morning of watching Colts football, I jumped to my desk to search about the headline of the day – the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. Since I didn’t have any plans for the evening, I called my favorite photography buddy, Meghan (who has accompanied me on photographic journeys before), and planned out an adventure to see the rare eclipse of a supermoon.

On September 27, I (like almost everyone else in the world), planned an evening to watch the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. Right after my typical Sunday morning of watching Colts football, I jumped to my desk to search about the headline of the day - the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. Since I didn't have any plans for the evening, I called my favorite photography buddy, Meghan (who has accompanied me on photographic journeys before), and planned out an adventure to see the rare eclipse of a supermoon.

Where Are We Going?

As rare as this natural event is (once every 30+ years), I wanted to find a special location to capture this moon. I decided that I wanted to compose the moon with Mount Rainier - one of the most majestic places to visit in Washington State. I knew that the Supermoon would be rising due east, which meant we had to be facing the west side of the mountain. Meghan and I left early afternoon and headed to Olympia, WA for a mini-roadtrip and allowed extra time. After arriving in Olympia, we realized we were in a valley and couldn't see anything. That's when Meghan scoured the Internet and found a forum post that mentioned to head to Elk Plain, Washington. We took a gamble and left Olympia to backtrack 20 miles heading to Elk Plain.

Majestic As Can Be

After driving through backroads, through the evergreens, and along a military base, the trees finally cleared, revealing Mount Rainier! We pulled into a parking lot of a church to discover that there were other locals who also planned on seeing the supermoon! I should also probably mention that the church picked a great place to build their house of worship! This was the view from the parking lot.

It's Time For The Show!

As the sky darkened, a dull circular outline slowly levitated above the mountains. Eventually, the moon's tint shifted toward a dark red. Then, slowly, white light peeled away the red shadows. It all happened within a couple of hours.

Lessons Learned

My pictures did not end up as great as I had expected, and some of my photographer friends did a much better job than I did. Although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the results, I was able to learn a lot in a matter of a couple hours:

  • I spent way too much time trying to build the composition of the moon and Rainier. The area was too dark to take a long exposure to blend the moon and the landscape.
  • Possibly rent a telephoto lens larger than 300mm to get a better picture of the moon.
  • Definitely check that the camera sensor and lens are free of smudges. They turned out to mess up some compositions that I had prepared. The light had reflected off of the smudges, creating an artificial reflection from the moonlight.
  • Be patient with others. People driving into the parking lot of the church kept leaving their vehicle lights on, which ruined most long-exposure attempts, adding unfixable glows of red or white. Wait for the opportune moment to begin a long exposure, and cut it short if there’s a vehicle approaching.
  • Actually enjoy the moment in life. I focused too much on creating the perfect shot; I probably would’ve felt less stressed if I had enjoyed seeing the eclipse with my eyes, and not the viewfinder.

Despite not getting the composition I was looking for, it was definitely a fun road trip. Now I know where to go if I want to show my friends a close-up of Mt. Rainier, and not have to enter the park.

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