All images and material © 2016 by Mike Clasen Photography • All Rights Reserved • Use By Permission Only
I thought a good title for this image would be “The dune, the crescent moon, and friends”. “Cosmic Triangle” sounded good too… I took a couple variations of this scene, so maybe I will use both titles.
There is a story behind this shot as it was not planned until 06/19, and was captured on 06/20 (sorry if it is long and boring).
A neighbor of mine and his wife are selling everything and moving back to Berlin, Germany where they were both born over 70 years ago. My neighbor’s wife has a brother over in Berlin who has cancer and is going through chemo, and her borther’s wife has dementia, so my neighbors both decided to sacrifice everything, sell their retirement home, all their belongings, their car and are leaving within the week to go help out the brother and his wife. So my neighbor wanted to give me a back massager, and I was actually supposed to stop by his house to pick it up, however he decided to walk over to mine instead, which is what unfolded the events to follow. It was around 8:30pm on 06/19, and the crescent moon was softly glowing behind some light cloud cover, and there were two bright stars (Venus and Jupiter) glowing near the moon, forming a perfect triangle in the sky as we were viewing from the porch. So this prompted my neighbor to tell me a story about sailing off the California coast and navigating by the stars, the moon, etc… I pulled up the ‘TPE’ app on my iPhone to show him how you can determine the location of, and the rise and set times for the sun and moon. When I pulled up the TPE app, he asked if we could see Germany, so I swiped across the screen over to Germany in a couple seconds, then drilled down into Berlin. My neighbor then had me go to the edge of Berlin where there was some farmland, and then we could see the tops of the apartments that he and his wife had just rented the week prior so they have a place to live when they arrive. He was in amazement and said “this is fantastic!!”. So then I pulled up the “Star Walk” app to show him how it works, and we were looking at the crescent moon, Jupiter, and Venus with our own eyes in the twilight sky, along with the Star Walk app on the iPhone sitting right in front of us displaying the celestial objects on screen with their names alongside them. Again he was in amazement and said “this is absolutely amazing!!”.
So after my neighbor left, I sent myself a reminder for the next night to travel just outside of Reno to an area near the Virginia Mountains off the Pyramid Highway, to try and capture the crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter with some hopefully interesting foreground elements. The following night, it was looking like the celestial objects would be hidden behind clouds when I was traveling to the area I was going to try and capture them at. After setting up, and around twenty captures later, all three celestial objects were visible through the clouds casting a soft glow.
In my opinion, the elements of this composition are so-so, but I did not have the time to scout anything out on Saturday as I was actually in Lake Tahoe giving a talk on a photography project of mine, and did not get back to Reno until 7:00pm, so this was really squeezed in so to speak. I did not arrive at the location until 8:30pm, and this scene was captured within a 25 minute window. I am very happy I was able to capture something considering all the circumstances involved. I would have not gone out to capture this scene at all had it not been for my neighbor coming over the night before. Nor would I have known about the triangular placement of the moon, Venus, and Jupiter. It is strange how things happen sometimes and come together.
This is a focus stack/exposure blend from three different captures.