Hunting the Moon on Volcan Baru
A ten year quest, fulfilled at last
If a beautiful moonset happens,
but nobody records it,
was it beautiful?
On the morning of December 3, 2017, I awoke at 4:30 am
to attempt, once again, the capture of a rare moonset over our reclining Empress Volcan Baru, mightiest of the Central Cordelera, Divider of the Great Oceans, her empire grounded in the restless junction of three gigantic crustal plates. She watches, we think for her amusement, our insignificant human comings and goings among her deep canyons and eternal cloudy-green jungle.
All of my previous attempts failed.
Moonsets aren’t rare, but capturing one is another matter. And this was the rarest of full moons, a super-moon, when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth. Even more exceptional, the super-moon would set directly over the peak of Volcan Baru.
Photographers are hunters.
We have to be in the right place at the right time with the right shooting equipment. Our prey is not living creatures, but moments in time, images that we capture to cherish and share as memories.
For us photographers, compositions appear in fleeting instants, emerging from the chaotic flows of cosmic and human energy, only to disappear an instant later into the eternal void of the unrecorded past, never to return in the lifetime of the universe.
My photographic shooting station was prepared on the terrace
Like so many times before, I watched with morbid fascination as clouds streamed in darkness over the mountains on their journey from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean.
Ah, the clouds. They formed and cleared, dancing, laughing, and playing with my ambitions. I would sometimes wait for hours, the sky clear. Then, just at the moment the moon was setting, they would sweep over the mountains, capture the moon in the folds of their overcoat and mock my ambition.
I paced in the cool morning air, listening to the orchestra of the creek and the raucous chorus of The Opera of the Frogs. It was a moment to reflect on the nature of life, the cosmos, and the uniqueness of every single moment.
Test shots, a cup of tea, and warm slippers prepare me for the critical moment. My camera waits on a sturdy tripod. I watch with fascination as clouds swirl around the upturned face of the Empress as she awaits the arrival of her favorite consort, the Prince of Moon.
Clouds shroud the moon as it descends below the lip of the volcano!
Will they grant me even a moment of clarity? I begin shooting as fast as I can, synchronizing my mind and body and camera so that when that perfect shot appears, I will act instantly and instinctively - without conscious thought.
Suddenly the swirling clouds part, and the moon is revealed in full view. I fire three times before the clouds close in again.
I bagged my big game, a quest of ten years fulfilled.
Mentally thrilled but exhausted, into the electronic darkroom I went, to examine the exotic image captured in my camera.
Photographs, captured in the present, become our remembered past. Events, scenes, and people not recorded fade from memory. In time, they cease to exist.
So, when you see a picture of something that interests you, take it!
Today, more than half of the world’s population has a smartphone-camera, and most seem to be using them, often in new and interesting ways.
We are literally evolving a global pan-human memory bank - our minds connected by our shared recorded imagery.
It all starts with one person taking one picture at one moment in time. So don’t be shy - carpe imago - seize the image.
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