The full moon that has just passed is often called the harvest moon. The name comes from its proximity in time to the end of the northern hemisphere growing season. Having been involved with growing food for a good portion of my life, fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. Living with ponies as I do, fall is a favorite time for another reason. My friends can have more access to grazing – especially after our first frost which was a few days ago – since the forage has begun to die and has lost the richness which can cause metabolic problems.
This harvest moon afforded me with an unusual opportunity for interacting with my ponies. We were down to one pick-up truck this past week, and my husband was using that truck to commute to work. He’s putting in better than twelve hour days, so checking on the ponies at pasture needed to happen quite early in the day and quite late in the evening. Typically I was at pasture long before sunrise in the morning and well after sundown at night. I am blessed with good night vision, so I wasn’t terribly concerned about this situation, and I was even less concerned about being able to see black ponies in the dark because of the harvest moon.
For the first few mornings of this routine, the moon had already gone down when I arrived at pasture, but there was sufficient starlight and some brightening above the eastern mountain range from the impending dawn to light my way. The harvest moon was brilliant for my evening chores, though. Then for the past few mornings it was still up when it was time for the early routine. I take great joy in greeting the moon whenever I see her. And seeing the ponies in moonlight at either end of the day had a magical quality to it.
After a few days had passed and I had the routine down, I started pondering how to capture that magical quality with a camera. My first attempts were an utter failure: completely black images. The moonlight seemed so bright that surely my trusty camera could capture black ponies at night. Wrong! Last night I decided to try again. This time I actually aimed the lens right at the moon with a pony in the foreground. Instead of completely black images I had a white dot on a big black background! I finally resorted to using a flash to capture the image you see here. Definitely more to learn about photographing in moonlight. One previous success had set my expectations very high, and they were summarily dashed!
Today we’re off to retrieve my truck from being repaired. I already miss my harvest moon rituals, though I will admit that getting that fast a start in the morning has been a bit tough since I’m not a before-dawn person. The ponies will be coming home for the winter later today, though, so I’ll be afforded more opportunities for interaction, but without the magic of the harvest moon.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013