I checked in with Anthony Ayiomamitis, our friend and astronomy photographer in Athens, to ask him if he had any luck with this weekend’s Full Moon. It’s been a challenging year for him due to the atmospheric conditions in his part of the world. In Anthony’s photographic life, there are no light kits, no blocking out the windows to take control, no backdrops and no manipulation in Photoshop — he is at the mercy of the elements and the cosmos to get a good photo.
To create the kinds of images you’ve seen Anthony do, everything has to work out perfectly. The Sun, the Moon and the Earth must align at the right time. The weather must be right. He has to coordinate travel. And finally the technical aspect must go well.
No matter how experienced a photographer is, it’s always possible for something to go wrong — and it’s always possible to get lucky. Most photographers (particularly the best ones) will tell you how much luck factors into their work. Well, a mix of careful preparation and luck.
Anyway, because this weekend’s Full Moon rose (in Athens) in the east a few minutes before sundown, the sky was still bright as the Moon was looming on the horizon, close to the temple.
As the Sun dropped below the horizon, the sky grew darker, which facilitates a high-contrast shot more typical of Anthony’s work — but as that happened the Moon rose higher in the sky, thus further from the temple.
Ideally, the Full Moon would have passed by a few hours earlier, prior to sunset — this way the Sun would have set prior to the Moon rising, resulting in a dark sky with the Moon close to the horizon. Note, when the Full Moon is close, the sunset and moonrise happen at about the same time, but one will usually rise before the other sets.
Here is how the photo above, which is taken facing the east, looks in an astrology chart. Notice that in an astrology-type layout, east is to the left and west is to the right (reversed from a normal map). The dark horizontal line is the horizon.