Moon Mission

slice-of-life_individual“I’ve got a mission tonight!” I announced.

“A mission?” Kurt asked.

“Yes! It’s a full moon and I’m gonna try to take pictures. I’m determined to figure out how to take a good moon photo.”

To date, all my moon shots with my “new” camera have been tremendously disappointing. Just a big white blob in the sky. I knew it was operator error, and tonight I was determined to succeed or at least improve. I also had new tools in this endeavor–a tremendous zoom lens and a tripod–recent gifts from Kurt. 

 “Do you know when it rises?” he asked.

I googled away quickly.

“7:23 pm!” I announced.

Looking at the clock, I realized I’d better get on it. I started leafing through my camera manual and googling on line: “best setting for a moon picture.” I barely noticed when, a few minutes later, Kurt left to go to a meeting.

I was deep in confusion when my phone rang, only a few minutes later.

It was Kurt.


“The moon’s already rising, Molly.” I looked at my watch.

“What!?! But it’s only 6:30 pm!!!” (Clearly I do NOT know how to read a moon chart!)

He continued, “You should check it out down on Brown’s Point Road. It’s huge!”

“But…but… I thought it wasn’t rising til after 7! Ahhhh! I’m still figuring out settings!”

I hung up quickly and scrambled madly trying to at least address the basics. Umm….ISO 100, aperture f/11-f/16 and shutter speed 1/60-1/125. I fumbled with knobs and buttons.

I have very limited experience with manual settings, and I should have begun preparing earlier. I was paying the price now. Try as I might, I could not get the iso to change. Over and over, I pushed the sequence of buttons, but it kept reverting to the original setting.  Oh, well, I finally decided, I’d just drive down to the river and give it a try. I grabbed my camera bags and tripod and set out.

Down at the water, the moon was a huge glowing orb with wisps of clouds drifting across it. Stunning! I unloaded my gear and set up, happy that the tripod was pretty user friendly and that I was able, more or less, to manipulate it in the dark. Then I turned on my camera and swiveled to find that gorgeous moon. Ahhhhh….Perfect shot. With my zoom, I was so close that the details popped.


I looked at the picture displayed on my camera.



This was not the stunningly detailed moon that I had seen in my view finder. Despite my tinkering, I was still firmly at white celestial blob. This was very disappointing, but I rallied.

Cell phone flashlight in hand, I fiddled around with a few settings and tried again. The clouds were cooperating nicely, but…



This was not encouraging. I took shot after shot on different settings.

Click! Click! Clickety click click!

Blob! Blob! Blobbity blob blob!

One time, I got desperate and tried some effect setting and, much to my surprise, wound up with this:


Maybe the moon is actually made of a fried egg, not cheese…

Eventually, I packed up my equipment and headed back home, temporarily defeated, but determined to view it all as a process. A very messy one. Clearly, I needed to do some more research.

Once home, I dug into the manual and Google again. The more I played around, the more I realized how little I really knew about  my camera! After much reading, experimenting and head scratching, I discovered that there was an automatic iso setting that was confounding my iso adjustment efforts. I then figured out how to override that. Finally, the suggested settings were programmed, and  it was time to wait for the moon to rise above the trees at home. Every 15 minutes or so, I dashed outside to assess its location.

At about 8:30, Kurt came home.

“How’d it go?” he asked.

“Utter failure,” I replied, “but I did learn how to use the tripod and I think I’ve reset it so I can try again. I’m just waiting for the moon to rise over the trees.”

“Well, I could see it when I drove up the driveway,” he said.

I grabbed all the gear again and set up outside. Looking up at the moon, I shook aside the lingering frustration of missing the earlier much-more-magnificent version.  Process!  I reminded myself. It’s still beautiful!

I set up and found the moon in the viewfinder. All those glowing details. Vivid. Clear. I took a deep breath and…


I looked at the camera and…


Woohoo! Yes! I did it!

I know I need to practice it a few more (hundred!) times to try to retain it. And I’m sure there’s still fine-tuning to be done. I’m having all sorts of thoughts about learning curves, process vs. product, frustration, and persistence. But mostly, for now, I’m simply celebrating!

Mission accomplished! 

12 thoughts on “Moon Mission

  1. dmsherriff says:

    Congratulations!! I think each picture you took is beautiful in it’s own way. I think the wavy one reminds me of Picasso’s Melting Clock. You capture urgency and a bit of comical conversation in this slice! I am also left wondering about how your photographic work will connect to Ralph Fletcher’s new book, Focus Lessons. The book is not out yet, but I have a feeling you will truly appreciate his work! Thanks for sharing and congratulations again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I pre-ordered Ralph Fletcher’s book and can’t wait to read it! You raise an interesting point about recognizing the beauty in our results, even if they aren’t what we desired or anticipated. Clearly, I need to reread “Beautiful Oops!” Thanks for that perspective!


  2. margaretsmn says:

    Wow! I admire your persistence. Like Dawn, I think each picture has a beauty of its own.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate says:

    Beautiful oops should be the title of this slice–each picture is so neat! Honestly, I thought the first one was great, although now that I see the last I see what your goal was, and how the first would be disappointed. I’m really impressed! How fun that you are playing around with a new or new-ish hobby and that you’re learning and trying new things. Inspiring! Loved this slice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Kate! Beautiful Oops would have been a great title, though honestly I didn’t consider it that way until Dawn commented. I love how feedback from other writers can shift our perspectives or spark new insights!


  4. kd0602 says:

    Now I need you to teach me! I share the same frustration over taking night (moon) photos—and not really understanding the manual mode of my camera.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I think it’s one of those things that takes a lot of time and practice. Yesterday morning, those same settings didn’t work for a moon that was mostly hidden behind dark clouds. I’m nowhere near ready to teach anyone how to do this, but I’d love to learn together! Let me know if you’re ever out this way, and we’ll go on a photo field trip!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kd0602 says:

        That would be so much fun! We might have to try a virtual photo field tritone of these days! I know I need to study my camera and learn…I’ve been tempted to take a class to force myself to do it. I will figure it out one of these days…you did give me little bump of motivation!

        Liked by 1 person

        • mbhmaine says:

          I think the moon’s a good subject to play around with, so that’s my plan for now. I’ve been tempted to take a class, as well, but never can quite figure out how to fit it in!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. The Ansel Adams of the sky! Well done. What a surprise that a teacher has perseverance and builds her world on hope! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Dan, though I suspect Ansel Adams might be spinning in his grave! lol I love that phrase “build the world on hope.” I’m going to try to consciously adopt that approach to all things, new and old. It’s a great mantra!


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