Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jet Across Moon

This photo is a sequence of a jet landing at LAX crossing the moon.  This is a site I have longed for since childhood.  Click on the "Read more" at the bottom for the story behind the photo.

Many moons ago, so to speak, I remember a summer evening when my brother, a neighbor and I sat atop a small shed in the back yard.  We scanned the dark, starry sky while we exchanged stories.

While lying on the roof scanning the night sky, I scoped a jet moving towards the moon.  I watched the red blinking light pulse off and on for a long time.  Suddenly, the jet's light stopped and its outline passed across the moon's light.  I was amazed to see it shape against the moon's light and slip back into the darkness and a red blinking light again.

Since that time, I have never seen another aircraft cross the moon's path.  I constantly searched but was never fortunate enough to see it again.  I knew I would have to create my own situation.

Tonight would be different.   I set up my tripod, mounted my Nikon D300 and attached a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens prior the moon's rise.  As the moon rose over Los Angeles, I knew that its angle from the dog park in Redondo Beach would be perfect for planes landing at LAX.  As the landing planes decended, I would time the rising moon and capture the shot.

Well, not everything worked out as I thought it would.  Some things worked perfectly and others turned into a learning lesson.  I got to the park just after sunset and set up my equipment.  I was able to carry everything in one haul.  I put on my down jacket (a cold evening) and threw my camera bag over my shoulder.  Next came my Gitzo tripod bag and a TrekPod monopod bag.  That left my hands free to carry a seat pad in one hand and the Nikon 400mm in the other.

Things that went well......... I set up the quipment in the dark without fail.  I knew where everything was in my bags and assembled them.  That was rare but great. 

Things not so well.......  the 2X teleconvertor didn't work with the lens.  I had to take it off and thus not get a huge moon shot.  The second thing was the number of flights.  Usually the planes are lined up one after the other.  I have counted 9 planes lined up to land.  Not tonight.  Only one plane crossed the moon's path.  I was starstruck by that. 

As the one plane crossed the moon, I was able to shoot many shots and I assembled them in Photoshop.  That was a learning experience but easy enough to figure out. 

In the end, a lot lessons learned and it was an experience.  I will be ready next time the moon aligns right and the planes land.

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