The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken from somewhere along San Joaquin Ridge near the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, on September 6th, 2017

The moon moves surprisingly fast. You’ve probably noticed this a time or two yourself: the moon is sneaking up over the horizon, huge and beautiful and orange. Then before you realize it it’s floating high in the sky in a pool of inky blackness. And when the moon is about to set it seems to go faster still. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of thing. The other funny thing about how the moon moves through the sky is that it doesn’t go in a straight up-and-down line. Rather, from where I live in Mammoth, it almost seems like the moon traverses a 45° incline: As it drops lower in the sky it appears to move an equal distance to the north. Both of these things make it tricky to position the moon exactly where you want in a photo. In fact, you have to be mobile and agile and be willing to chase the moon a bit in order to sneak it into the perfect position. In this case the moon began to approach this wonderfully craggy notch in the Minaret ridgeline but I could see it wouldn’t quite be positioned perfectly in the slot. So I scooped up my tripod and lens and sprinted northward through the pumice to get in position. As the moon sank toward the notched I continued to fine tune my location as well: 20 feet to the north. No, too far, back 10 feet to the south. Perfect. The moon dropped into the notch and I was able to take this single photo before it slunk out of position again. Luckily my efforts paid off and I had managed to time things just right: with the mountain chalice holding the full moon.

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