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Moonrise over Navajo Mountain

Moonrise over Navajo Mountain
The full moon rises over Navajo Mountain in southern Utah

Navajo Mountain lies in the extreme southern region of central Utah, just over the border from Arizona, near Lake Powell. According to Wikipedia, the Navajo know this mountain as Naatsisʼáán. The Hopi call it Tokonave and before 1933, it was popularly known as Paiute Mountain due to a nearby population of Paiute Indians.

This image was taken from a location a little east of the town of Big Water, Utah in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. I believe the mountain was about 30 miles away from my location. Using an app on my iPhone called Sun Surveyor, I was able to predict, quite accurately I might add, that the moon would appear about half-way up the slope on the right side of Navajo Mountain and I had my Fujifilm GFX 50S set up and ready to shoot well in advance of the moonrise. As I wanted to carry as much depth-of-field as I could using the 120mm f/4 lens, I set the aperture at f/32.

Many photographers know the “Sunny 16” rule for figuring out exposures in full sunlight: Set your aperture to f/16 and your shutter speed will be the reciprocal of your ISO (ISO 100 = 1/100th second shutter speed). There is a similar rule for shooting the moon that I learned as the “Lunar 11” rule: Aperture at f/11 and the reciprocal of your shutter speed. As I was shooting at ISO 400, this would normally have come to an exposure of 1/400th at f/11, or 1/50th second at f/32.

However, I also knew the sky near the horizon would be darker than normal due to smoke from a coal-burning electrical plant just over the border in Arizona, plus the foreground was going to be in shadow due to mountains to the west, so I had my camera ready at 1/10th second at f/32. This worked perfectly.

This image is a horizontal 4×5 crop from the original vertical image. The resolution of the GFX camera is so high, however, that even this extreme crop still results in a 29.8 megapixel image.

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