How the Art Happens - Big Moon Rising

December 04, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Big Moon Rising

Big Moon RisingBig Moon RisingComposite photograph of full Moon over Crested Butte, Colorado.

Ten years ago I did a little work for one of the local newspapers, The Crested Butte Weekly. As winter set in here in the high Colorado Rocky Mountains, with its dark and cold nights, the staff of the small paper was all commenting on how large the winter full moon appeared as it rose over Crested Butte Mountain. I got assigned to capture this phenomenon.

The full moon was to appear on January 11 but I knew that to capture some light on the surrounding town and mountain, I would have to take the photo the night before which would have moonrise almost an hour earlier. 6:54 pm to be precise!

I grabbed the tripod and camera and set out for my favorite overlook of the town of Crested Butte. I framed the photo to my liking and waited for the moon to rise. At just before 7 pm the moon started to show over the mountain. It was tiny! I took a few photos. I was disappointed. My editor was going to be even more disappointed. This job did not pay particularly well but, still, I wanted to bring home "the goods".

I put my 300 mm telephoto lens on the camera and waited until the moon cleared the mountain. I made a few photos of the full moon above the mountain and headed for home.

Using the magic of Adobe Photoshop, I created a composite image of the much-larger full moon into the exact position the tiny moon occupied in the original photo. This was not good photojournalism! It broke a bunch of rules I learned in college. It was "fake news".

Feeling completely guilty, I submitted both images to my editor and explained what I did. If the paper was going to use the composite image, they would need to explain what I did in the cutline. They did and the composite image was received to rave reviews and a few people even ordered prints. I guess in art, the end really does justify the means. "Big Moon Rising" is a fun composite image that shows what the scene feels like rather than what it actually looks like. I like it!


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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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