July supermoon in San Francisco

» Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Featured, on location, San Francisco

This year’s “supermoon” was on Saturday, July 12. A supermoon is when the Moon’s orbit brings it closer to the Earth (at the perigee) and make it appear larger (especially when it’s full moon and at moon rise). In San Francisco, any summer full moon is a challenging situation to photograph. The summer fog can play troublemaker and block any moon rise. My plan for that supermoon rise was to take a picture of the Moon sitting on top of the Coit Tower.

Saturday night was a typical summer evening in San Francisco, cool, windy and with the fog rolling in. As I was waiting for the Moon to rise I took a couple images to show you the fog rolling in over the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands.

Fog around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fog around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fod rolling over the Marin coast at sunset.

Fod rolling over the Marin coast at sunset.

The East Bay was still visible and I was hoping to see the Moon rise enough to reach the top of the Coit tower. I tried last year to get this shot but my angle with the moon was wrong. This time I checked twice and I was confident it would work out. The Moon rose over the Bay Bridge as I was expecting. As the Moon kept rising, it was clear that it would get to the fog before it could rise over the Coit Tower.

Supermoon in San Francisco right over the Bay Bridge

Supermoon in San Francisco right over the Bay Bridge

Very quickly after I took the image on top of this post (and my last with the Moon), the fog was too thick to see it. I was never able to see the moon behind the Coit tower as I had planned. I will have to try again.

Coit tower at night in the fog.

Coit tower at night in the fog.

Update: I got this question by email after posting this post “How do you know where to go to get the moon aligned with
a building?”. The answer is very simple, I use a tool called TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris). Using this tool I was able to see in which direction the moon was going to rise and align it with the building I want to use at foreground (in this case the Coit tower). Using the tool, I search for a vantage point aligned with the moon, and the building. Ideally this vantage is pretty high and has a clear view of the building you want to use. If you are lower than the building, you will have to wait for the moon to rise more in the sky. I knew that the moon would rise at 20:41 (at 109.5 degree) but I would not be able to see the moon until it rise a bit (roughly 1 degree in elevation) and it would become aligned with the tower (after rising for a bit more) around 21:08, if I stand on the aquatic park jetty.

Screenshot of my  plan using TPE.

Screenshot of my plan using TPE.