Moon Over St. George

I spend a lot of time exploring lighthouses from decrepit to refurbished. I also am a volunteer keeper and on the board of a regional group that cares for four of our West Michigan lights. Lighthouse Keeping is ridiculously difficult work, from cleaning and upkeep to long days of greeting the public but the rewards are sweet; slipping up the tower at the end of the day to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan and, if you are really lucky, the full moon rise over the dunes.

Since I do it all the time at home I could not pass up an opportunity to climb to the top of St. George Island’s Lighthouse during the full moon.ย  The ticket was $15 and came with a slice of local pizza and some sparkling cider. It was a tight fit at the top with 14 of us crowded into the lantern room waiting for the sun to set. Space was a premium so I had left my tri-pod behind (I left my mono-pod at a bar in Port Washington, Wisconsin but that’s another story.)

It was a lovely sunset. I had planned a couple of wide shots that showed most of the island in the foreground and then to pop on my kit Nikkor 55-200 zoom to catch that crazy moon. I reached in my bag aaaaand pulled up my wide angle.
Check your gear, check your gear, check your gear.
It was, however, a social event and we were all crowded on the lighthouse catwalk shooting away, chit chatting with strangers, howling at the moon and having a chilly but pleasant time when a very nice man shared his zoom with me.

I share two photos from this surprisingly cold January evening, one with my old kit lens and the next with the gentleman’s zoom.

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor (Kit Lens):


I shot that with my D7000 so in large format that couple on the beach pops and is very much a part of the shot.

Same spot on the rail, no tripod. Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 VC PCD :


I do not begin to understand the physics of light or glass. Maybe the moon would have appeared rounder and clearer had I remembered the other kit lens. Maybe it’s bumpy because I did not have a tripod. My moon shots are usually much clearer than this. In any event, thank you, kind photography stranger. What the night did was instill in me the realization that I need a much stronger zoom. The one I have is… the review.

There is more on the St. George Island Lighthouse here.ย ย  This light has been completely rebuilt by the locals. I had hoped to link a fabulous shot by photographer Debra Hooper of the collapsed original. If you root around you may find it. She took it down from the internet because people kept stealing it. Sure enough, I found the shot, pirated with the watermarks erased, on a foreign site.
While in the museum I took a photo of her photo, a great aerial shot (obviously in a display case and therefore not worth ripping off). If I find it I’ll put it in the comments.

Ken Rockwell Reviews My Nikon Kit Lens

Ken Rockwell Reviews the Tamron

A review of my spectacularly…adequate kit lens I left behind. It is not my imagination, I do need to buy a new lens.


More Half Light

EDIT: I left the working window open and accidentally changed some words.



16 thoughts on “Moon Over St. George

  1. Pingback: Half-Light (When the road gets dark) | What's (in) the picture?

  2. hmmm. Perhaps is not the light or the lens. The first shot, with your kit lens is in a wide setting so it’s less prone to movements, usually the f-stop is bigger so your camera doesn’t need to rise your ISO and it can record a higher degree of dynamic range. In short: Without much zoom it’s easier to shot well the moon.
    In the second one your lens was zoomed so the aperture is smaller with few light so your camera needed to rise so much the ISO, with higher ISO is easy to burn highlights, also is truth that with the zoom at full even to press the shutter button can add movement so I use the timer (but also I use a fixed lens camera so there is no mirror that intorduce vibration)
    I love your first image, it seems like the moon is going to walk a road of roofs. Thank you, Kim.

    • As I recall…I set the ISO pretty high for I hoped to use a quicker shutter as I knew I did not have my tripod. There was just no room. I will keep in mind what you say about higher ISO burning highlights. I have noticed that with a lot of my night shots. Thanks!

      I too like the first shot. I shouldn’t worry about having the correct gear. If you really look and wait you’ll get the shot that was meant to be. Thanks!

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