On May 15th, 2022, I witnessed one of the most incredible spectacles of the night sky.  A Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse danced across the eastern horizon just after nightfall.  I am fully aware that is a mouthful.  Basically, it was considered a Super Moon because it was on the day that the moon was closest to earth.  It was a Flower Moon because it was a full moon in the month of May.  It was a Blood Moon because of the effect of the reddish light cast by all of the sunsets and sunrises on earth reflected onto the moon by the eclipse.  Lastly, it was a total lunar eclipse because the moon passed completely through earth's shadow, not receiving any direct sunlight for roughly 85 minutes.  With all of that said, this was a special occasion not just for its beauty, but also its exceptional rarity.

In the Oregon Cascades the weather proposed a bit of a mixed bag.  The entire day was quite cloudy, yet still forecasted to clear up in the evening.  When in the evening?  That is anyone's guess.  My trust of weather forecasts is fragile at best.  When 6pm rolled around and it was still cloudy I really began to doubt the feasibility of being able to see the celestial event, let alone photograph it.  

After pouring over maps and using PhotoPills to track the moons position, I settled on the initial location of Diamond Lake, sandwiched between Mount Bailey and the towering Mount Thielsen.  Upon arriving at Diamond Lake I discovered that the road that circumnavigated the lake was still closed with snow (in the middle of May!!!).  My intended location was still miles away from the blockaded road.  Onto plan B.

On the drive to Diamond Lake from a short hike I did earlier in the day, I noticed a roadside field that had an old dirt road passing through it and a pond in the middle.  There was a clearing about a couple acres large from the wildfire that passed through this forest last summer.  Although it didn't appear to be much, the clearing was enough to grant a clear view of Mount Thielsen, the "lightning rod of the Cascades". 

Cherry on Top

Mount Thielsen, Oregon

I set up my camera and 100-400mm telephoto lens on my tripod a couple of hours before the event unfolded.  Since I was much closer to Mount Thielsen at this location than my planned location, I began to get a bit nervous, thinking I would not see the eclipse come over the higher elevation horizon until too late.  I fidgeted, paced, and doubted until about 9:15PM, when the moon finally came over the horizon, adjacent to the north face of Mount Thielsen.  

As I begun taking pictures, I was checking and double checking my focus, which is a challenge when shooting in low-light conditions.  As the moon continued its way above the horizon, it became evident to me that it would pass right behind the pointed summit.  This was exactly the shot I had envisioned, but I thought my change of plans jeopardized this completely.  When the moment came that the moon was just behind the summit I just held my breath and hoped that I had paid enough attention to the technical execution to come away with any photograph to give the momentous occasion the respect it deserved.

When all was said and done, I felt a rush of adrenaline in my veins.  Although this was one of the least physically demanding or adventurous photoshoots I had been on in a while, the rarity of the occasion and the raw beauty of the moment had me shook.  I knew this shot would be special.  

This outing was a great reminder of how valuable the research before any photoshoot is.  The time I spent pouring over maps and tracking the moons movement allowed me to at least give myself a chance when plan A did not pan out.  

This photograph was captured at 270mm, with the settings 1.3sec, f/6, and ISO 5000.  I usually do not shoot with an ISO this high, but the telephoto lens and movement of the moon demanded it for a sharp exposure.  I was able to reduce the noise substantially in post-production using Topaz Labs DeNoise AI software.

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