There’s something about moonlit nights that always makes me feel all mysterious and starry-eyed. Although the sound of rainfall gives me the best feelings, something about the moon just feels…..out of this world!
As someone who loves all things space, the moon is just about the only thing I can see pretty well with the naked eye. It’s so far, yet looks so…within reach.
I often think about what it must be like to live on another planet. Whether it be on the red rock or the moon (just assume it was habitable), if you woke up one day and found yourself looking at Earth the way we look at the moon, how will you feel?
Our world is such a tiny speck of dust in the grand scheme of things, even within just the observable universe. Yet, if you roam this planet far enough, you could be in places that are so remote the world will feel big.
But it’s not. It’s tiny. We know that for a fact.
Stuff like this races through my mind when I look at the moon. And what better atmosphere to indulge in some moon sightings than the top of a mountain range during a supermoon.
Supermoon and Jebel Jais
I’m presently staying in Ras al Khaimah, about 85 km north of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
About another 80 km serene drive from my place is one of the viewing points in Jebel Jais, which has the highest point in the UAE.
Because I like to drive on relatively empty and scenic roads, I regularly go out on a drive to the viewing points atop Jebel Jais, one of which is about 1,300 meters above sea level.
Unlike the highways in the UAE, the winding roads leading up the mountain do not have street lamps. But the roads become naturally illuminated during full moons, creating a mysterious and somewhat spooky atmosphere.
And when you’re at the top of the mountain looking at the range, everything feels surreal.
As you may already know, two supermoons (when the moon is closest to Earth) are happening in August.
I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to drive up yet again and enjoy the atmosphere. I also wanted to take my camera gear and see if I could get some nice photographs.
Moon photography in Jebel Jais
I went a couple of times before August 1st, the Supermoon night, and I had to be pretty disappointed.
On the first night, I didn’t bring my camera, so I missed the shots. I wasn’t thrilled with the iPhone shots I got.
On the second night, it was so cloudy that I couldn’t even get anything (though, in hindsight, the cloud gave these shots some moody vibes).
On the third night, August 1st, I got some moon close-ups. I was happy with the results, but I still couldn’t get the kind of shot I wanted.
I wanted to get the moon with some landscape in the foreground, like the mountain range and the winding roads leading up to it. But I found that it’s pretty challenging to get perfect moon shots. It requires a lot of planning to know precisely where the moon will be on the horizon and to figure out the composition you want in advance.
I didn’t have any of that preparation, so the best I got was the close-up. Even that wasn’t good enough.
The camera gear
Unfortunately, I left my tripod at home back in Dhaka.
I also didn’t bring the Canon EOS R5 or the RF 100-500mm lens. The 500mm reach, coupled with the R5’s 45-megapixel sensor, would have allowed me to get a much closer, more detailed, and sharper image of the moon.
Instead, I had the Canon R6 Mark II, RF 24-105mm ƒ/4L, and the RF 70-1200mm ƒ2.8, which I mainly used for the close-up shot of the moon.
I’d be lying if I said some of these shots didn’t make me happy. The advanced in-body image stabilization, working in unison with the RF 24-105mm and RF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lenses’ stabilizers, allowed me to shoot handheld at an impressive 2.5-second shutter speed, which would be impossible with traditional DSLRs that lack modern IBIS technologies.
More than the photos themselves, I enjoyed the experience of driving up the mountain on such a surreal night.
Having failed to get anything good for the previous two nights, I didn’t want to go up again, especially without a tripod.
But I went anyway. And I got this shot.
The lesson from that experience? If there’s a slim chance that doing something may be worth it, you should do it. Chances are, it will be worth it. 🙂
To be honest, while I like the close-up moon shot, I think it’s a bit bland. That’s why I wanted to shoot the picture with other things in the foreground.
But the moon was too high up, and because I hadn’t scouted beforehand, I couldn’t take anything interesting.
Maybe next time!
Something I shouldn’t forget is the Toyota Rav4, my rental car for the month that has been taking me up the mountains.
As a car enthusiast, I’ve been driving different cars every month to write about them on my car blog. To accompany those posts, I drive up to various points in Jebel Jais and find interesting backdrops. But I never intended to take one in the dead of night.
When going out to photograph the moon, I didn’t think it would give me an opportunity for some car photography. But it did!
This particular spot on the left, which aligned well with the moon higher up in the sky, gave me the backdrop for a couple of interesting shots.
As a colleague told me in response to my regret for not having the R5 and the 100-500mm lens, “The moon isn’t going anywhere.”
Maybe supermoons and blue moons show up in, well, once in a blue moon. 😀 But we have a full moon every month. And this gives me a chance to try to improve my night photography.
One of these nights, I’ll come away with something I’m really proud of. Here’s to looking forward to that one!
Interested in my photo blog? You can check it out at ais.pics. 🙂