Sony A7Rii + Canon TS-E 24mm/3.5
20s @ f/4.0 iso 1250

More and more I'm finding that by morning I mean predawn twilight. I think part of the reason is because I have a bad habit of leaving before the end of twilight when I'm shooting sunsets and miss that end of the evening golden hour. And recently predawn twilight have been all about the full moon. For some reason the weather Gods / Goddesses have parted the Pacific Northwest clouds so we could experience the glorious moonlight.

And moonlight is very, very cool light. It adds a quality that I find to be unlike any other type of light. And in the early morning hours of this week's winter full moon, it cast strong shadows but without the harsh quality of sunlight.

I find a setting moon to be similar in some respects to the setting sun. I'm drawn to aim my camera right at it and capture the high contrast strikingly beautiful imagery. And the shot below was one I'd been thinking about since before Christmas so it was a natural first stop.

Sony A7Rii + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED
15s @ f/? iso 640

And I knew when I woke up and saw the moonlight shining in my window that I wanted to capture some of my favorite Lopez Island locations under moonlight illumination. But I usually have a hard time passing Fisherman Bay without stopping and this morning was no exception. The light was amazing and the water still as glass. The beauty was just surreal.

Sony A7Rii + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED
20s @ f/? iso 2500

But I was anxious to head south and my first stop was the Old Center Church. I've taken hundreds, maybe even thousands, of shots of this sweet little church. But only a few shots at night. And never under such glorious moonlight.

Sony A7Rii + Canon TS-E 24mm/3.5
20s @ f/3.5 iso 800

And the combination certainly didn't disappoint. The soft moonlight accentuated the beautiful form of the church while, let's just say, smoothing over some of the wrinkles of age.


Sony A7Rii + Canon TS-E 24mm/3.5
20s @ f/3.5 iso 1250

I almost always see my images of this church in black and white and I knew I was headed there with these shots. But I wanted to also include the color versions as well. In a lot of ways I think the color shots showcase the richness of the moonlight a bit more clearly. I think it works to go either way depending on the scene or desire look.

And a soft light that could hide a few winkles of old age seemed a perfect fit for my next stop, the Old Richardson Fuel Dock. This is another Lopez Island iconic site that I have shot often. And I have to confess it is a difficult one for me. There always seems like there is a lot going on and I find it challenging to find a compelling composition that doesn't feel cluttered. 

Sony A7Rii + Canon TS-E 24mm/3.5
20s @ f/4.0 iso 1250

And I'm not quite sure I'm there yet, but I'm like the quality of moonlight on the classic island spot.

And finally it was time to bring the moon front and center. It's kind of rare for me to go this long into a full moon shoot without a picture of the moon itself. This shot was in the wetlands down by Sperry Peninsula and the moon was just setting. The contrast between the moon and the marsh grabbed me right away and it was all I could do to get setup and grab a shot before the moon set. Five minutes later and this shot was gone.

Sony A7Rii + Contax 100-300mm 0.8s @ f/? iso 100

Sony A7Rii + Contax 100-300mm
0.8s @ f/? iso 100

I had planned to shoot from about 5am till 9am but as sunrises approached, 8ish, the light seem to get less and less magical. There were a few times driving home when I almost stopped but the moonlight has so spoiled me that I just headed home excited to see what I'd captured. All in all a very enjoyable photography morning.