It’s been over a year since I last took a moonstack with the Bell Tower as my subject, so I had to make another!

I first learned to “moonstack” (as I like to call it) in July of last year.

I believe I left my intervalometer going for longer than I needed to, and ended up with a bunch of successive Moon pictures which I then stacked together and ended up with an awesome display of how the Moon marches around the sky.

The first one I came up with was this, of the young crescent Moon and Venus marching into the western horizon:

lunar; moon; stack

Crescent Moon and Venus marching down | photos.tmahlmann.com

and immediately the first lesson I learned was not to touch the camera while it was in-progress of capturing a moonstack. Something I wish I wouldn’t have done then, because of the noticeable bump in the sequence but a lesson I learned quickly and haven’t had problems with since.

That was just noticing the Moon, framing it up, and capturing it moving  into the horizon.

These planned moonstacks with subjects are different and require much more planning.

I sometimes feel as though Purdue’s 3rd Street Garage was put here to take Moon pictures as it rises in the East. It is the perfect height and distance away. It likely serves the community a much more mundane purpose (parking your car), but I like to think of it that way.

Here’s two moonstacks I took last September over the Bell Tower.

 

Using The Photographer’s Ephemeris, an iOS/Android/Web app that allows you to track where and when the Sun/Moon are or will be at any time given a location, I was able to plan out that the Moon would be rising up through the Bell Tower from the vantage point of the 3rd St Garage later that night.

And so I finished up homework, packed up my camera bag, and rode over to the garage at midnight.

I setup my tripod and camera at the planned spot atop the garage and waited. Current temp: 24°F.

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BTS snapshot during the sequence

When I first saw the Moon, I began the sequence. I usually set the timer to take photos every 10 seconds, but that’s always overkill. For this sequence, I used 1 out of every 8 photos (one photo every 80 seconds) so that they are touching but not overlapping at all.

While I waited for the sequence to complete, I used my second camera and smaller GorillaPod to capture some singular shots of the Moon when it was peeking out from behind the Bell Tower from various points on the parking garage.

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Smaller tripod and second camera checking out the Moon

Moon playing hide-n-seek | photos.tmahlmann.com

Moon after exiting behind the Bell Tower | photos.tmahlmann.com

I take more than I need so that if things get in the way of the camera (clouds/planes/a mistaken hand in front of the lens) I can move one photo over from the set, and still have a successful sequence.

Say I have a deck of cards (my moonrise sequence) and I need 4 unique cards from the deck, but it doesn’t matter which 4. If I have all 4 Ace’s, but one of the cards is damaged, I could use say, all 4 Jacks instead (shooting more than you need) to fulfill my sequence.

What I resulted with this morning was a great moonstack behind the Bell Tower, just as I had planned it.

Moonstack Behind the Bell Tower | photos.tmahlmann.com

For a tutorial on how to try one of these yourself, go here!

If you would like a print of this moonstack you can purchase one from my website here.

Or you can view the rest of my Purdue Bell Tower photos here.

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