There are always surprises when photographing landscapes. Things can happen that are completely out of one’s control.

My plan was to photograph the full moon in clear, dark Death Valley. As it happened, there was also going to be a lunar eclipse on the same night. A great bonus! I made sure I was set up to get the rising full moon at sundown. I was out at the sand dunes with a great old dead tree in the foreground to frame the moon but a problem emerged when clouds moved in. What were the odds of that happening? In Death Valley! Not a scant of moonglow pierced the cloud cover. Soon it was dark and the moon still didn’t appear. I went back to my lodging and spoke to a few people who said that the clouds were supposed to dissipate before the eclipse at around midnight. I set my alarm and got up to see if they had been right. They weren’t. No hint of the moon. I finally gave up around 1:30am and went back to bed.

Up before dawn, I went out to catch the sunrise at Red Cathedral near Zabriski Point. The moon wasn’t visible except as a glow behind the clouds. I’d written off getting a shot of the moon when suddenly, before going down behind the distant Panamint Mountains, the moon appeared in the small gap between the clouds and the horizon. I scrambled to change my lens and made this photograph. I was surprised to say the least!

I call it “Making Lemonade”. It’s one of the things I love about photographing the natural world, the inevitable having to think on my feet, make adjustments and change the entire concept if necessary. Many times, the truth be told, it works out even better.

One more surprise waited for me until I arrived home and viewed the image larger on my computer. In the dark, what I thought was a small tree out on that distant point of Red Cathedral turned out to be another photographer. Surprise!

All Photographs © 2021 John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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