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In My Opinion...
The World Bathed in Moonlight
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 • Posted June 12, 2014 • Updated June 12, 2014 1:14 PM

The bright Texas sun can be harsh and glaring. In any photography class, one of the first things you learn is that midday is the worst time to take photographs, as the light comes from directly overhead and washes away all the details in the photos that you would take. The best light for really good photography is in the early morning and the late afternoon near sundown. That light has a softer quality, and a more complex palette of colors.

But, there is still one light that is even more beautiful. However, it is too faint to effectively be photographed. Moonlight!

A lot of people, after watching movies that show cowboys out in the moonlight, just assume that moonlight is bright enough to take photos. What they don't realize is that movie makers use a technique known as "day for night" to do moonlight shots in the movies. The scenes are filmed in the brightest daylight possible with a very dark filter placed over the lens to give the appearance of night.

With real moonlight, only the sensitive human eye can see all the details bathed in that soft lunar glow. Moonlight gives illumination, but is not powerful enough to show fine detail, or even color. When you consider that moonlight is nothing more than reflected sunlight, it all makes sense that it is so muted and complex, all at the same time.

I love that moonlight is so bright that, on a full moon night, I have to close my blinds tightly to keep out the glow. When I lived in the city, I never really noticed the moonlight, as it was overpowered by the street lamps and other lights. But, out in the middle of the country, the moonlight overpowers the few mercury vapor lamps dotting the hillsides. In the country, the moon is THE main light source.

When we were kids, we would drive around on the back roads of the county. If the full moon was shining, we would often turn off our headlamps, slow down to 15 or 20 miles an hour, and simply cruise through the evening enjoying the unique landscape as it appears only under a shining moon.

I still enjoy walking outside when the moon is shining, taking in the landscape as it can only appear during that short time of the month when the moon covers the world in its glow. In the Texas hill country, a moonlit stroll reveals deer, racoons, possums and armadillos moving through the nighttime landscape.

At Pemaquid Point up in Maine, I always loved moonlight strolls around the end of the peninsula. Inevitably, you would encounter other folks out enjoying the cool nights, walking over to the cliffs by the lighthouse, and talking softly as they made their way about the Point.

On one very special occasion, I was heading back down the fire road to the cabin using only the light from the moon to make my way. I heard a loud snort and turned on my flashlight just in time to see a moose calf coming toward me down the road. The gangly calf was followed closely by its nervous mother. I moved back off the road into the scrub surrounding the lane, allowing the cow's antlers to pass within inches of me as she carefully herded her calf back to the main road.

On fishing trips to the San Saba and Llano Rivers, the best fishing almost always occurred at night. There is nothing that compares to sitting on the riverbank, fishing rod in hand, watching the moonlight glinting off the ripples in the stream. Extra caution was needed to make sure there were no encounters with snakes or other creatures; but, the bright glow from overhead was usually enough, with occasional help from a small flashlight, to help the evening pass safely.

This month, the full moon occurs on Friday the 13th. I'm not a superstitious person, so the 13th doesn't really concern me. And, I don't believe that a full moon makes people any more or less crazy than they already are. So, the combination of a lunar orbit and a spot on the calendar is not of concern to me.

Instead of worrying about this confluence, enjoy the fact that the full moon will occur on a day preceding the weekend. Take time to step outside at night, turn off all the other lights, and enjoy the night as our ancestors did so long ago.

It’s all just my opinion.

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