Rat Rock Island Moonrise

Canon 1DX, 200mm, ISO 200, .3 sec @ f11. Metering mode on aperture priority with a -1 EV

Yesterday was one of those rare days when the moon rose at the exact same time as the sun set. And on a small, sandy, strip of beach in Marin County, about a dozen Camera West friends joined me to document the full moon.

I’ve always wanted to get a photo of Rat Rock Island, situated a hundred yards off the shore of China Camp State Park near San Rafael. I’ve seen some beautiful photos other shooters have made of this island with a strange name and I wanted my own.

As part of a full moon project I started last year to get me out shooting again, I checked The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) to see how the moonrise was shaping up for this month and to my surprise I saw that the moonrise & sunset times matched. (What makes this so special for you the photographer is that for a few minutes, it is possible to get detail in both the moon and the landscape.) Rat Rock Island came immediately to mind and when I checked the map within TPE, I saw that it was going to work. The moon would rise directly over the island!

The Photographer's Ephemeris showed that the moon would rise directly above Rat Rock Island at 5:26pm. The blue line indicates the direction of the rising moon, the other lines show sunrise, sunset and moonset.

Prior to sunset, we all got our cameras set up, including David Cheung in the foreground.

As the sun sets behind us, we all wait patiently for the moon to make its appearance behind Rat Rock Island seen in the distance.

As the moon appeared right on time, we all clicked away.

We all had a great time until an unseen park ranger spoiled our fun. Turns out the park closes at sunset and with an annoying bull horn from the road above, he announced our cars would all be ticketed if we did not leave immediately. But no worries, we all escaped with no fines and some great pictures of Rat Rock Island.

If you are interested in attending similar photo outings like this one, be sure to check the events link on the left of this page. Once a month I lead inexpensive photo walks and we are always offering some great workshops throughout the year. Be sure to check them all out!

Want to shoot the next moonrise? Check out this previous blog post I wrote on how to shoot a moonrise photo, and this link for the landscape photographer’s best friend : The Photographers Ephemeris.

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