I keep my “photo instrument” in tune by trying to shoot pictures every day. The iPhone has really helped. It’s light, the photo quality is good, and you can talk to people on it.
The iPhone, doesn’t replace my grown-up cameras, of course, which are the new Canon 5D Mark IIIs. They are the reliable and excellent tools of my trade. (Full disclosure: I’m a Canon Explorer of Light, a small group of professional photographers who speak on behalf of Canon, and are paid a modest amount every year to exclusively use their SLRs. There is no amount of money you could give me, however, to promote or use cameras that I didn’t think were the best).
So early on the morning of September 1st, as the blue moon, (so-called because it was the second full moon rising in the previous month just a few hours back), was setting, and the sun not yet risen, I headed out to see what I could do to record the event. As I drove down Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica, I noticed that the descending moon was going to line up behind the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. That was good, because the pier from various angles on the beach, and during different times of day, is one of my favorite Kennerly Photo Spots.
I had my trusty 5D Mark III fitted with the 100-400mm zoom with me. That lens is a favorite, and I almost always have it along. I also had my Apple combo camera/phone, and a Leica M-9 rangefinder digital camera with a 24mm Summilux-M 1.4 lens. That one was given to me by Samy of Samy’s Camera store in Los Angeles to try out over the weekend.
My mission was to try and make three totally different photos of the same subject with the three cameras, and I would only have a few minutes to do it before the moon disappeared into the haze.
Foreground is an important factor of photography, and I was on the lookout for a way to combine that element with the moon. The first shots I took on the beach were with the long lens and the moon framed through a ring on a gymnastics apparatus. That liked what I was seeing, so I continued that theme with both the Leica and the iPhone. As I was shooting on the iPhone a guy swung through the rings in what I thought was an impressive if not entirely graceful effort. I used a black and white application that I’m developing for myself, tentatively called, “Kennerly’s No Bullshit Photo App.”
That seemed to work, so after that sequence I switched to the Leica, and made a few more photos with the moon also framed in a ring, and the pier behind. At this point I was feeling pretty good about what I was getting, but I still wasn’t happy.
I took the final photos as the moon headed toward the horizon, using the Canon with the 100-400mm lens. The moon was setting directly behind the Ferris wheel, and I could see it clearly through the gondolas and spokes. It was quite a spectacle. What helped even more was that the lights of that structure were still on, and provided some vibrant color in the foreground. I took a dozen or so pictures at the 400mm focal length, which greatly compresses the moon, and made it seem huge. In the picture you can even see the craters on the surface. By now the sun had just come up behind me, and reflected off the wheel and gondolas. That, combined with the majesty of the blue moon, made for one helluva nice shot.
I pronounced myself satisfied, and headed back to have a look at my photos on the computer.
As luck would have it, the blue moon pics weren’t the last ones of the morning””on the way back home I passed by a local church that was covered by a giant multi-colored tent put up to contain the gas used to exterminate the termites and bugs inside. (Being zapped inside a church, do they go to bug heaven?). The light was great, and the effect very much like seeing a Christo art form. After I finished I looked at my watch. It wasn’t even 7:30 am.