“don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― anton chekhov
a little over a month ago, i was out and about scouting locations to make images of the strawberry moon super moon, the last super moon of the year. my previous attempt to shoot the flower moon super moon almost a month before to the day had not been very rewarding. the vision i had was disrupted by clouds. the moon was also too high in the sky by the time it came into view in relation to the scene i was composing.
this time around, the skies were more cooperative. i was driving and walking the northeast area of minneapolis near the stone arch bridge to scout out a location to make images of the super moon. my first stop was gold medal park.
gold medal park is right in the middle of the historic mill section of minneapolis. a hub of culture, art, business and humanity surrounds this park. the park seems to be set up to offer a sense of renewal for the mind and soul. unique to this park is a spiral path that culminates at the top of a mound where the view is fantastic, whether looking toward the city or toward the mississippi river.
i hiked to the top of the mound, pulled out my photo pills app and searched for where the moon would rise in relation to this site. i had my sights set on a couple of different spots and from this area, the moon was not going to be in the right place. however, i'll be back to gold medal park to make images there. i had taken some time before checking my app to just soak in the view. it was my first time there and i was hooked by the visual treats of its urban "delicacies" in all directions.
i descended the mound and walked a short distance to another park called mill ruins park.
mill ruins park is not a park in the "nature" sense. this park houses what used to be the flour milling capital of the world. rocked by an explosion in 1878, the 'a' mill (there were several mills in the area) rebuilt and continued operations until 1965 when it was closed down. it suffered another tragedy in 1991 when a fire destroyed much of the building and all the original equipment. today, it is a historic designated area and a museum. within this park are two iconic signs that was another location to size up for a composition with the super moon. once again pulling out my photo pills app, i was thrilled to find that the moon was going to rise in the right spot!
the next evening found myself setting up my tripod and camera in one corner of a parking lot in mill ruins park. i was out of the way enough to let cars go by and still have a composition i liked.
people were out in droves which i expected. it was a friday night, i was in the midst of a popular hub of night activity and life had been returning to pre-pandemic norms. being a more cautious person, i was still keeping myself as distanced from others as possible. i resorted to putting my mask on when it became apparent i was not going to be able to keep enough distance. minnesota nice was in full swing. curiosity was getting the best of some people who would swing by to find out what i was doing. some merely asked if i was waiting to make images of the super moon. others were standing around me, looking in the direction i was set up to see what was there or asking what i was making images of. cars were in constant motion, a river of red taillights coming in and white headlamps exiting out of the parking lot just a few feet from my setup.
i was beginning to wonder if i was even going to end up with any usable images where i had set up. car headlamps as they exited threw extreme highlights toward my camera lens. bicyclists were pulling up around me and just checking out what i was doing. no problem except they, too. were shining their headlamps on me, lighting up the general area with more light than i wanted. i'll be honest; i was getting a little annoyed and i asked one group of bicyclists, in a bit of an irritated voice, to please turn their headlights away. they complied and moved on. i felt a little bad with my tone of voice. after all, i was in a public space and they all have a right to be where i was. i resigned myself to the fact that i was going to have to make do in the midst of a busy friday evening. i ended up recomposing my image to be above the lights of moving traffic and waited for the "event".
finally, i saw the ambient light of the strawberry moon super moon start to appear behind the mill in front of me. it was time to go into action and make some images!
this is probably my favorite image of the night. most super moon images i've seen have the moon as one of the prominent focal points and for good reason. they call it a super moon! however, i fell in love with the mood set off by the ambient light of the moon. i think it ties in very well with the mood lighting from the other lighting sources. you can see the moon in part through the glass enclosure towards the lower left. for me, it strikes a vibe of a story in progress. i just love how the towers on top of the middle building reflect the light of the gold medal flour sign. i also love that you can actually see some stars in the image. usually the bright lights of the city, and especially if there is a full moon, will overpower the stars.
here, the super moon has emerged as it continues its ascent. i had hoped to be able to see the surface of the moon but it was too bright, even in images i intentionally underexposed to try to bring out the features of the moon. there was a slight haze that also contributed to that. the halo around the moon is evidence of that haze.
you might notice in the first image that the two neon signs are slightly brighter than the second. you can clearly see the neon outline of the gold medal flour lettering in the second. the north star blankets sign is a little more defined as well. the first image was made at a higher iso setting which means more light was being allowed to shine into the lens. this was done as the moon was not yet fully emerged with all of its light. the second image has a much smaller iso setting to restrict the amount of light getting into the lens. this, in turn, drops the output of light from both neon signs as well, contributing to a more defined lettering. there is no right or wrong with either version. it's all part of the photographer's vision. i could have made a couple of images for the first image and blended them to maintain more of a defined and crisp lettering. but for the first image, i wanted more of glow to add to the overall mood lighting. slightly different techniques in making both images lead to a slightly different feel to both images.
this was fun night despite the crowd. you'd never know from these images it was humming that night. if you were in the one of the buildings looking down, you'd see a swarm of humanity all around me. once the moon went behind the building to the right, i called it a night. i packed up my gear and headed off into the cool night, leaving behind the hubbub of the nightlife that was still young and rocking. i'm too old and not cool enough to fit in with it anymore. lol.
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