Tuseday of this week I had gone to Big Ridge State Park to see if I could get a map of the park, ride my bike a bit, and then see if there is anything else worth photographing. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the full moon schedule but as I looked up, the moon looked like it was going to be full in the next few days. I called my up dad to see if he could look up the full moon schedule. If Tuesday would have fallen between the 2 days before or two days after a full moon, I probably would have just gone up then, but alas it was still early. In the past, there were a couple of times some folks would go up to Cumberland Falls from the moonbow, but I had never made it with them.
Since the full moon fell on a Friday, I figured I would plan to go up then. First I asked if any of the other photographers from church wanted to go. Only Anthony F. was able to go. Since I still had room for a couple of people in my car, I sent a message out to the CSC summer list. Calvin was the only one to respond. He probably didn’t know what all was going to be involved. For those that might be reading this and wondering if hiking is involved, there is none. We meet up at Laurel at 5:30 to make the drive. It only takes about 1.5 hours to get there from Knoxville, but since I had never been there, I wanted to get there a little bit early to scope it out.
When we arrived, it wasn’t crowded just yet. We walked around to the different overlooks and took some photographs of the falls. For one of the overlooks, we had to wait because a wedding was going on. After looking at the different overlooks, it appeared that the first main overlook would probably give you the best view. Anthony and I setup our tripods and waited and waited and waited and waited some more. The rangers had said that the moon would probably clear the ridge after 11:00 or so. When the moon clears the ridge, the way it signs down on the mist, it creates the moonbow. The moonbow is pretty faint to the naked eye. Truthfully, its not all that impressive. However, when recorded on camera, you can see amazing detail. People were wowing as I would finish my exposure. I got a few email addresses of people that wanted a copy of my pictures. Unfortunately for them, I’m no longer a photographer that just gives away work. I now sell prints. If the prints make me too much money, then I’ll need to register as a business. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get close to that amount. I’ll probably go through them in the next week and really clean them up before I email them address in the gallery.
Moonbows only occur in two places in the world pretty predictably. The other place is at Victoria Falls on the Zambia and Zimbabwe border in Southern Africa. There are some other places it occurs if several conditions are right, but at Cumberland Falls, the main condition that needs to be meet is the full moon. Anyways, I bet right now you want to see the rest of the pictures. I have them posted to my gallery under: http://gallery2.justinacuff.net/v/Misc/Cumberland_Falls_Moonbow_2008-07-18/.
Tips for Photographing the Moonbow
- You need to use a manual camera that has a bulb exposure.
- You need to use a tripod.
- Flash does not work.
- Point and shoot cameras will not work. Really, if you try to take a picture with your point and shoot in the night landscape mode, it’s not going to work. You’re just being rude and blinding everyone else around you. You need a camera that you can do an exposure greater than 30 seconds.
- The exposure on the picture in this post was ISO 200, 4 minutes @f/4.0. Next time I think I will shoot ISO 400, 4 minutes @f/8.0 for a little bit greater depth of field.